Virtual Worlds Continue To Make Real-World Gains
Opensim, the open source server platform used for hosting virtual worlds has reported growth of over 13% last month. Opensim has two modes. Standalone and grid. Standalone essentially hosts the entire virtual experience on one server which limits the number of users, whereas the grid option spreads the number of simulations across a number of different machines.
Virtual worlds such as Second Life use Opensim to enable their applications to run successfully, with a number of servers being used to host a number of processes. Standard web sites, whether using static or dynamic pages, simply do not require the memory or processing power of 3D apps, so this common framework managed by a not for profit organisation, offers the opportunity for many to at least dip their toes in the world of 3D. It can reasonably be concluded that this latest rise in figures can be translated to mean that virtual worlds across a whole range areas such as Sciencesim and Metropolis (focus on science and the world of 3D & 4D) on the Opensim framework are increasing not only their number of users but potentially the richness of the experience within them.
The extension to Opensim, the hypergrid was invented last year and enables Avatars, an individual's 3D presence to teleport between virtual worlds within the hypergrid, and has addressed a valid criticism of virtual worlds that the user was essentially locked solely into the experience within the preferred world.
Tokyo based company 3DI is now recruiting partners to further develop the viewer that they have produced that will enable 3D to run on the Google Android OS, and there was a recent announcement from Second Life that they were going to unveil a browser based interface for Second life. The benefit here would be to build support into the browser for hypergrid teleports, enabling avatars to transport between the grids.
All of the above developments indicate that further increases are on the way in terms of portability across existing worlds, the ease at which they can be accessed and the number of devices they can be accessed from.
The metaverse may not be expanding at the same rate as the other online drivers such as web 2.0 but it seems to be well on it's way. An optimist ( I like to err that way) would even say that mass usage (a majority of browser based users) could be reached within 5 years.
Image courtesy of Labsji at Flickr