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Second Life To Get 3D Voice

Second Life, the virtual world that's becoming increasingly popular in education, will soon add proximity-based 3D voice capabilities, according to developer Linden Lab.

But just what is "3D voice?"

According to Linden Lab, it's a technology that allows Second Life residents to speak to one another using spacial awareness algorithms that take distance and direction into account, modifying sounds to provide a more immersive experience.

"Linden Lab anticipates that voice will be particularly valuable to Resident groups such as educators, non-profits, and businesses, who might use Second Life as a collaborative tool for learning and training," the company said in a prepared statement.

The technologies, provided by Vivox and DiamondWare, will be available in addition to the current chat and instant messaging capabilities currently integrated into Second Life.

“The addition of voice marks a natural progression in the ongoing evolution of Second Life,” said Joe Miller, vice president of platform & technology development at Linden Lab. “We believe Voice is a transformative technology that will change the way Residents communicate, and will lend more immediacy and dynamism to their interaction with others. For example, academic institutions could use the voice feature of Second Life to carry out lectures; corporations could use it for customer training; and friends can simply catch up with each other.”

Some of the capabilities include:

  • In a voice-enabled land, up to 100 users can speak on the same audio channel;
  • Group conference calls can occur between multiple users across geographical boundaries;
  • Private conversations can be initiated through instant messaging; and
  • Owners of parcels and private islands can enable or disable the voice feature.

“Many of the projects my students and I are working on in Second Life will benefit from voice, as we often work with our hands, designing, building and creating,” said Terry Beaubois, professor of architecture and director of the College of Arts & Architecture’s Creative Research Lab at Montana State University. “Voice will enable us to communicate and collaborate freely, and I’m looking forward to exploring its use.”

Linden Lab said that a beta of the new technology will be available for 1,000 users beginning next week. A beta for all Second Life residents will open following that beta period. A full rollout is expected in the second quarter of 2007. It will support Mac OS X and Windows.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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