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Why HiFi?

Second Life creator Philip Rosedale and partners are working on a new VR platform called High Fidelity. It’s still in very alpha state, but they are occasionally releasing little samples of their progress. What I’ve seen until now has been less than impressive, but I was pretty amazed at this latest demo. The characters look very cartoon-ish, but what you need to understand is that the gestures and facial expressions are all being generated in real time based on the actual expressions of the users. Eye movement, raised eyebrows, the guitar strums… A top priority of the project is near zero latency, which would open the doors to the Internet being more widely used for real time music collaboration, among other benefits.

I have questions about the point of all this, e.g., at what point is it no different from Skype? The advantage to Second Life is that you can present yourself as you are not in real life. When I’m inworld, I’m often glancing at my two side monitors or doing a quick Google search relating to a conversation I’m having. With HiFi the people I’m with would see that I’m distracted. This may be a more “authentic” experience, but I don’t use SL to recreate a real life experience. I use text chat for the same reason. I’m much more articulate and thoughtful when I can edit what I’m saying on the fly. The “inauthenticity” of SL is precisely what makes it engaging and empowering. Given infinite possibilities, why be what you already are?

3 comments to Why HiFi?

  • Dividni Shostakovich

    I’ve wondered about this myself, but one answer occurred to me when I saw the still of the YouTube: the possibility of 2+ people interacting with a virtual environment, e.g. with scripted objects, a location that’s complex enough to require exploration (like some of Bryn’s), etc. It could also support dance and theater performance, which is limited in SL. A lot of people like voicing in SL — like you, I much prefer text, but I know plenty of people enjoy voicing, and they’d probably like having more gestural and expressive possibilities. It seems like a very niche application, but then again, SL itself is rather niche these days.

  • Yes FreeWee, I agree exactly.

    Philip Rosedale is a genius. For sure. Yet he’s always seemed focused on “business teleconferencing.” And as you say, as you approach the limit of that, isn’t it just Skype?

    I’m eager to see all the new toys of course, but I’m more optimistic about SL2 than HighFidelity. Although since he’s on the board of both, a friend recently suggested that there might be lots of tech transfer between the 2… I guess we’ll see…

  • […] world, he’s always seemed to focus on augmentation. As FreeWee asked in a recent blog post, Is the limit of augmentation Skype? My friend Soto thinks it’s as simple as Rosedale wanting to retire and believing that […]

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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

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