There of course is a huge amount of curiosity relating to virtual worlds and online, immersive experiences from people that are not actual users (yet). We still believe that the community is the heart of the matter and that the virtual, online needs to add value to that. The community needs to engage and then the virtual is a place to do something relevant.
Visit King Tut's Tomb online now and make your own discovery of the most amazing artefacts ever discovered.
Tech Radar did a nice little piece on Heritage Key recently saying:
It's a mainstream application of a once niche feature that reminds us why we all thought it was such a good idea. While Heritage Key is predominantly an educational website aimed at amateur historians and fans of archaeology, its heart is the 3D virtual exhibit.
They hit the key point really here, about what will bring virtual online to mainstream users. At the core of any community-site there must be something to do and for Heritage Key that is about exploring and understanding more about ancient world places. The virtual online experience will give people a great insight into places, artefacts and the overall history. Virtual Tourism is becoming an interesting area also. It allows for a better visit or give a sense of place you may never have the chance to really go to. When people GoVirtual they will also meet other explorers and then the real-time social interaction kicks in.
Dinah Greek commented about Heritage Key for Computing.co.uk:
An interactive website devoted to historical studies offers visitors more than the chance to explore ancient civilisations using historical recreations.Wonderful those these 3D reconstructions are, the Heritage Keysite also offers people the chance to join live online lectures, ask questions and join forums where they can meet like-minded people.
Dave Bailey in his write-up about us asked a question more about how virtual online can be used by CIOs in future:
So the question for businesses is how big is the opportunity to monetise commercial web sites by introducing a virtual world of online activity?
UK firm Rezzable is one company pushing the boundaries of virtual world technology, both technically and in identifying how such a business model could work.
Virtual online environments can deliver high photo-realistic objects and immersive activities now.
What are some of the issues blocking mainstream adoption for online virtual experiences?
So why isn't everyone with a computer and good broadband trying out a virtual online experience? Well, they are doing other stuff online that sucks-up a lot (maybe too much even) of their time. More specifically there are some issues in the way:
- Lack of quality 3D content -- 2.5D just isn't good enough for non-kids. We think there are some interesting changes in flow now that will make it easier/faster to create photo-realistic content that can be streamed online. Watch Unity. Watch for the SL mesh viewer. Watch Web Alive.
- Variety -- one thing that SL sorta has right is the way in which you can zap between different experiences. People don't want to have to log-in/out and remake their accounts just to look at something for a quick blast. We are looking at this issue now and expect to have a good enough solution to move between our grids = Rezzable and Heritage Key with one identity and consistent avatar. Once this is in place we can extend to other grids.
- Something fun enough to do -- We have released King Tut Virtual on our OpenSim-based grid and in general someone can wander around for 1-2 hours checking out some of the most amazing objects ever discovered. They can be seen in incredible detail. But we also think mainstream users and gamers need more goal oriented activities, like quests or contests. Our new work on Stonehenge Virtual is starting to address this, but I think there is still a long way to get the mix of realistic content and activities right.
- The Avatars are not good enough -- sure they move around in a jerky way that actually you can get used to. But the avatars are not the online proxy for real people ye. Mainly they are not expressive enough or smart enough to do stuff.
- Tech Stack is still unstable -- it has gotten dramatically better, but we still suffer from random crashes and lag and generally high enough levels to exhaust enthusiasts. It seems clear though how to make the tech work better. It will just need focused work to improve key things like physics, viewer, scripting. See my OpenSim issues list here.
Visit King Tut online here.