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Virtual World Business And Development Information

Archive for December, 2006

Get a Second Life!

Posted by SIM on December 31, 2006

Even if it’s fake
December 29, 2006

(Furniture/Today Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) High Point When I joined Furniture/Today in 1992, one of my first assignments was a big virtual reality project that included furniture prototypes in its three-dimensional, navigable renderings. Using a helmet, glasses and receptors, you could move through the virtual spaces, seeing actual-size furniture and interiors. And everything could be changed at will.

My editor at the time, Lester Craft, deemed the VR project worthy of page 1 coverage, with several pages inside. Now, in late 2007, the VR technology we wrote about 15 years ago is hitting desktops and laptops, and millions are logging on.

Testing on the cheap. If you haven’t heard of the virtual world Second Life, you will. Companies such as Vera Wang, Sony, Intel, Audi and Nissan are using virtual worlds online to test and prototype products, ad slogans and branding techniques, all at a fraction of the cost of product development and consumer research in the physical world.

Advertising agency Leo Burnett uses Second Life to encourage collaboration among its 2,400 creative staffers around the world, without requiring them to travel.

To introduce product in Second Life, you don’t even need CAD software. Photoshop is sufficient (in the right hands) to create furniture and place it into the virtual shops and homes of this fast-growing simulated world, which skyrocketed from 105,000 to 1.4 million users in less than a year.

Second Life “residents,” or players, spend huge amounts of time “living” online, buying and selling things, traveling, building homes and even running businesses, all by navigating their computer-generated identities, or avatars. Even avatars need a place to sit down and kick back. In other words, they need furniture.

Several virtual furniture makers and sellers already have set up shop on Second Life, which has a New Age, postmodern feel, including a company called Loveland Designs and several Japanese and Asian-style furniture shops. What these entrepreneurs are doing could be interpreted as prototyping furniture designs, and they’re doing it for pennies.

Here’s another example: Starwood Hotels, which owns Westin and Sheraton, is prototyping and marketing a new midpriced, loft-style hotel chain exclusively on Second Life. Starwood also set up a blog to engage potential customers and get them in on the planning of the new division, http://www.virtualaloft.com

Input on furnitureThe virtual hotel launch is giving Starwood input on, among other things, what types of interiors and furniture people gravitate towards and which ones are ignored. In one mini-market test, several different fabrics were draped over ottomans in the hotel’s bar area to see which ones Second Life “residents” liked or responded to.

The applications of this kind of prototyping should be obvious to anyone who has spent any time in furniture market showrooms.

“We’re saving money,” said Brian McGuinness, Starwood vice president, speaking to Business Week magazine. “If we find that significant numbers of people don’t like a certain feature, we don’t have to actually build it…. It’s parallel to rapid prototyping.”

The hotel’s real-world launch is scheduled for first quarter 2008.

Another real-world application is the way Leo Burnett’s employees teleconference using Second Life. Married with Skype VoIP, the virtual world provides a meeting room and the visual tools that do a pretty good job of simulating a real-world board meeting or conference.

The possibilities for furniture marketing operations that span High Point to Southeast Asia should be apparent.

Second Life applications could save people time in product development, enhance communications and eliminate some travel.

Put another way, it might give some folks time to get a first life.

Where to check things out:

Brian CarrollBlogger: http://www.blogger.com

Blog Maverick: http://www.blogmaverick.com

Boompa.com: http://www.boompa.com

CEOs Who Blog: http://www.ceoswhoblog.com

FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com

The Long Tail: http://www.longtail.com/

GM’s Bob Lutz: fastlane.gmblogs.com/

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com

Scobleizer: scobleizer.wordpress.com

Jonathan Schwartz: blogs.sun.com/jonathan

Second Life: http://www.secondlife.com

Technorati: http://www.technorati.com

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com

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Virtual Crime

Posted by SIM on December 30, 2006

Game on: criminals set sights on virtual realities
Report to warn that the explosive growth of computer-generated worlds could lead to money laundering
By Stephen Foley in New York
Published: 31 December 2006

Virtual worlds that have become a second home to millions of computer users could come under the scrutiny of governments as fears grow that they are being used by criminals to launder money.

A report due out next month from Deloitte, the consultancy firm, will say the nascent economies that have developed inside internet-based games such as Second Life and Entropia Universe could be exploited by criminal gangs.

The report warns that the fast-growing popularity of these games could tempt organised criminals, as players can trade virtual property and convert profits back into real currency.

Virtual realities have grown in sophistication since role-playing computer games migrated to the web and allowed players to interact with potentially unlimited numbers of people across the world.

While games like World of Warcraft have concentrated on fantasy challenges, Second Life and Entropia have created worlds much like our own, where virtual property magnates, clothes designers and prostitutes offering virtual sex make hundreds of thousands of real US dollars a year.

In Entropia, the virtual currency, called the PED, is pegged to the US dollar. Players can convert real money into PEDs and back again using an online payment system.

Last year, one American entrepreneur paid $100,000 (£51,000) for a virtual space in Entropia that he planned to convert into a nightclub.

The real-world value of transactions in virtual realities is rising steadily, and is likely to continue growing through 2007. One estimate places the value of commerce in Second Life at $265,000 a day, and it is estimated that average turnover is rising by up to 15 per cent a month. If these trends continue, Second Life’s overall GDP could be close to $700m in 2007.

The explosive growth has already attracted the attention of law makers in the US, who are worried about the tax implications of transactions going on inside the virtual world, away from the oversight of the Internal Revenue Service. A joint committee in Congress is finalising a report on the real-world implications of virtual economies, although its chairman has insisted the aim is to head off taxation of virtual transactions.

Deloitte’s report will argue that governments should look first at the potential for crime. “Governments may wish to focus more on identifying any attempts to exploit the mechanisms of virtual economies to undertake criminal activity,” Deloitte will warn. “Money launderers may use trade in digital artefacts or the ability to withdraw cash from an ATM as a means of money laundering.”

A spokesman for Second Life’s owner, Linden Labs, said the company was happy to co-operate with tax authorities and criminal investigators, but could not police such matters itself. “The nature of having built a highly participatory economy makes it very difficult, and Linden Labs has always tried to take a hands-off approach to regulation and in-world policing.”

Deloitte cautions that the economic influence of virtual worlds is still tiny in comparison with global GDP of $47 trillion. And the long-term sustainability of individual operations is in question. Second Life, for instance, has been plagued in recent months by technical glitches and has attracted the attention of malicious computer hackers.

Separately, the Deloitte report will examine how corporations might make money from social networking sites. It will argue that instead of following MySpace and YouTube in targeting young users, new sites should reach out to older internet users and extended families or tight-knit groups, and begin charging for “privacy” – services that control the people who can access shared material.

Source

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Virtual Reality To Get Its Own Network?

Posted by SIM on December 30, 2006

by Stephen Shankland
Fri Dec 29 16:30:44 PST 2006

A nonprofit group says it plans to build a network called Neuronet purely to support virtual-reality game and business applications.

Neuronet, which is planned to be separate from the Internet, “will evolve into the world’s first public network capable of meeting the data transmission requirements of emerging cinematic and immersive virtual-reality technologies,” according to a Thursday announcement from the Vancouver-based International Association of Virtual Reality Technologies.

The first-generation Neuronet is scheduled to go live in 2007, the group said. Consumer applications are expected as early as 2009.

“The first-generation network is strictly an R&D network and will function as a sort of sandbox for virtual reality and gaming innovators around the world to develop new applications for a second generation network,” IAVRT co-founder Chistopher Scully said in an e-mail. No services yet are signed up to use the network, he added.

Virtual reality generally refers to environments with visual and audio information that makes a person feel immersed in a computer-generated realm. The growth of environments such as Second Life has spotlighted such efforts, and IBM believes that virtual worlds will open new doors to e-commerce as well.

The group promises that Neuronet will have high-speed communication, a key constraint for virtual reality, which requires transmission of large quantities of graphics and other data, as well as fast responses to give users a better illusion of realism.

“The Neuronet’s communication bandwidth and real-time virtual-reality and gaming data transfer protocols will enable…virtual-reality trailblazers to reach their full potential,” the group said. “The Internet was not designed to support the data transmission requirements of real-time virtual-reality data, so the Neuronet is being created as a separate and distinct network.”

The Internet may not be up to snuff, but heading away from the mainstream poses other challenges. Companies or individuals must pay for network bandwidth used rather than ride the Internet’s coattails, computers must be updated with software support, new standards must be created, and network hardware must support those standards. In addition, the Internet already has a strong track record of vanquishing or absorbing smaller networks.

IAVRT is overseeing the registration of Neuronet domain names, the group said. Trademark holders can get an early start from February 5 to June 1; the general public is set to get access after June 4.

IAVRT membership is open to companies, educational groups and individuals, but the group doesn’t identify its current backers by name.

“IAVRT represents the interests of individuals and organizations spanning a wide range of industries working with VR technologies, including the medical, education, entertainment/new media, software, hardware and telecommunications industries, to name a few,” the group said on its Web site.

Scully didn’t name any of the organization’s backers or members in his e-mail, but said Mychilo Cline, author of a virtual reality book, is on the group’s advisory board.

However, some bloggers aren’t convinced the Neuronet is real. One is 3D designer Sven Johnson, who opined on his blog Thursday, “I’m almost certain this is a scam.” He was alarmed by the lack of identified IAVRT backers and the possibility that Neuronet is a “get-rich-quick scheme” funded by domain name sales.

Scully denied that position: “I can assure you the network is not a scam. Funds raised from the sale of network domain names will offset the considerable costs associated with the creation of the network.”

IAVRT is trying to help address several issues, including intellectual property, research and development, domain names, programming interfaces, government relations regarding regulation, economic development and communication standards.

IBM is among several companies with offices in Second Life, a proprietary realm with proprietary communication protocols. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, an IBM executive helping to set up Big Blue’s virtual-realms program, argued earlier this month that there should be standards that lower barriers between different realms.

Source

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A Comprehensive List Of Businesses That Can Be Operated In Second Life

Posted by SIM on December 30, 2006

Besides the businesses that Second Life recommends:

party and wedding planner
pet manufacturer
casino operator
tattooist
nightclub owner
automotive manufacturer
fashion designer
aerospace engineer
custom avatar designer
jewelry maker
architect
XML coder
freelance scripter
game developer
fine artist
machinima set designer
tour guide
dancer
musician
custom animation creator
lottery operator
theme park developer
real estate speculator
vacation resort owner
advertiser
bodyguard
magazine publisher
private detective
writer
gamer
landscaper
publicist
special effects designer
gunsmith
hug maker

Second Life
Business Opportunities Page




There is a vast array of additional businesses that you can set up in-world to supplement your SL & RL
income. Some SimChroniCity suggestions are listed below:

Accounting & Bookkeeping
Advertising Consultant
Antiques Dealer
Appraisal Services
Art Gallery Owner
Asphalt Maintenance
Automotive Products & Services
Barber Shop
Bath and Body Boutique
Boat Services
Body Guard Service
Bookstore
Bridal Services
Building & Remodeling
Business Brokerage Firm
Business Development
Business Equipment
Business Plan Writer
Cabinet Resurfacing & Remodeling
Cake Decorating
Campground Maintenance
Camping Guide
Candle Designer
Car Rental Agency
Car Sales & Leasing
Car Wash
Carpet, Upholstery & Drapery Service
CD Sales
Charm School
Christmas Decorating Service
Classified Ad Consultant
Closet Systems
Commercial & Residential Cleaning Service
Communication Products
Convenience Store
Cosmetics & Perfumes
Courier Service
Crafts
Custom Furnishings Designer
Dating Service
Day Spa
Desktop Publishing
Discount Store
DJ Music Business
Educational Service
Electronics Store
Employment Agency
Errand Service
Escort Service
Eye-Care Center
Feng Shui Consultant
Financial Planning Service
Fitness Center
Floral Designer (In Customer’s Home)
Flower Shop
Fundraising
Furniture Restoration
Furniture Store
Gift Basket Business
Graphic Design
Hair Salon
Hardware Store
Health and Fitness Products
Home Office Service
Home Repairs
Home-Improvement
Import and Export Service
Indoor/Outdoor Lighting Consultant
Interior Designer/Decorator
Lawn Care & Gardening Service
Life Coaching
Liquor Store
Massage Parlor
Messenger Service
Modeling School
Moving Service
News Stand
Nutritional Products
Party Supplies Store
Personal Shopper Service
Personal Stylist
Photography Service
Plant Maintenance Service
Postal & Business Center
Printing Service
Professional Organizer
Property Inspection Service
Referral Services
Remodeling Services
Scrapbooking
Security Systems
Sign Making
Sporting Goods
Sports Equipment & Apparel
Staffing Services
Tanning Salon
Tax Service
Tech Products
Training Business
Travel Agency
Vehicle Detail Shop
Video Store
Videotaping Service
Virtual Assistant
Vitamin Store
Wardrobe Consultant
Web Development for Residents who require a web presence
Weight Loss Center
Wheels & Rims Shop
Window & Floor Coverings
Workshops & Seminars




If you already have a real life business with any of the following companies, perhaps you can advertise or
demonstrate these products in-world, and deliver real products to real life residents:

(Please be sure you contact the corporate headquarters of the following to ensure you aren’t violating their policies)

Avon
Home Interiors
Pampered Chef
Signature Homestyles
Southern Living at Home
Tupperware
Watkins





Any Questions Send An e-Mail To SIM@SimChroniCity.com

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SL Merchandise

Posted by SIM on December 30, 2006

Buy SL Merchandise From The Following Reputable Dealers:


SL Boutique – Avatars, Buildings, Clothes, etc.


Cubey Terra – Aircraft, Hovercraft, Submarines and other vehicles


SL Exchange – SL Currency Exchange, Real Estate, Auctions and Forums

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Second Life Links

Posted by SIM on December 30, 2006

Second Life

The AvaStar

Anshe Chung Studios

SL Business Magazine

Site Meter

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Dell to Sell PCs on Second Life

Posted by SIM on December 30, 2006

November 14, 2006
By Natali T. Del Conte

Dell held a press conference in the virtual world Second Life on Tuesday, announcing that the company has opened an in-world island with a retail store where customers can actually order PCs to be delivered to their home.

“Second Life allows us to connect with customers in a rich and robust way,” said Ro Parra, senior vice president and general manager for Dell’s Home and Small Business Group. “It will tell us what we’re doing right and will tell us what we’re going to improve. So we asked ourselves how to extend this relationship with the customer to create a different experience. We want to be where people are gathered and they’re gathering on the Web in growing numbers.”

Visitors to the Dell Island will be able to examine Dell products in an interactive, 3D way. They can rotate, change colors, and look at the inner components of a Dell PC. The Second Life stores are also linked in real-time to the Dell.com e-commerce system.

“For the first in-world resident to order their PC from us, they’ll get it for free,” Parra said. “We asked ourselves if Second Life customers want to build a virtual PC and want to get it delivered in real life. We think some of them will.”

Dell Offers AMD-Based Notebook on Its Web Site

On the island, customers will pay for their virtual Dell machines in Linden, the official Second Life currency. Customers who want to order a physical machine to be ordered to their home will pay in US dollars.

The Dell Island also has a virtual replica of the Dell factory and a computer museum featuring a model of founder Michael Dell’s college bathroom where he used to hide parts for the computers he was building from his parents.

Dell is not the first one to sell computer products in Second Life but it is certainly the first major manufacturer to have such a large commercial presence there. The island will be fully staffed with people in red jackets who visitors can ask questions to and have conversations with. Dell also plans to use their in-world conference rooms for retail focus groups.

Dell’s Second Life presence was built by a company called Infinite Vision Media in Massachusetts. Parra could not disclose the price that Dell paid for the Second Life real estate.

“I don’t have specifics on the amount but we’re looking at this as an investment that we’re making in Second Life,” Parra said. “While we’re excited about this step, we believe it is a small step. We think this is just an exciting medium for us and we’re eager to tap into its power.”

Source

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PC Mag Rates Second Life

Posted by SIM on December 30, 2006

Second Life
REVIEW DATE:  12.21.06
By Cade Metz

Like There.com, Second Life is an online alternate universe, a 3D virtual world that exists only on the Net. Using your very own 3D avatar, you can lead, yes, a second life, mimicking everything from a night on the town to a career in real estate. It's a way of interacting with other people, but it's also a way of building a new persona. And if you're serious about it, you can even make some money.

The basic look and feel of the service is very similar to There.com, combining the 3D graphics of a first-person shoot-'em-up with the conversational dynamic of an online chat room. The difference is that Second Life is a much larger service, with a virtual economy that's making an enormous impact on real-world bank accounts. In the past 60 days, according to the company, nearly 700,000 people have used the service, and at least one user claims to have made more than $1 million selling virtual goods and services.

Sound ridiculous? Maybe it is. But the fact of the matter is that Second Life has struck a chord with a pretty significant portion of the population. It started with the same basic idea as There.com, but its users—with almost complete control over the creation of content—have taken the service to the next level. The graphics aren't any better, but there are so many more possibilities.

The basic service is free. At sign-up, you choose an avatar from a handful of prebuilt animations, and in minutes, you're dropped into Second Life's virtual world, free to wander the nearly 95 "square miles" of 3D graphics without paying a penny. Second Life comprises three mainland locales and thousands of smaller islands, all teeming with people looking to socialize—at least in the virtual sense. When you walk up to someone, you can instantly text-chat, just as you would over IM. As I said in my There.com review, you can think of these virtual worlds as first-person chat-'em-ups.

Like There.com, Second Life gives you free rein to change the look and feel of your avatar. You can become almost anyone you want to be. You can change your clothing, hair, and even skin, and you can be a bit more, well, risqué than you would at the PG-13 There.com. Second Life is open only to people 18 years old and older.

Unlike There.com, the core service does not allow for voice chat, but companies such as Vivox are offering voice-chat apps that tie into the service. Even so, there's something to be said for the anonymity associated with text chat. It's harder to become someone else if Second Lifers can actually hear your voice.

Linden Dollars

At its most basic, Second Life serves as a kind of chat room on steroids. But if you really want a second life, you'll need Linden dollars, virtual currency named for the creators of the service, Linden Labs. With Linden dollars, you can purchase anything from virtual clothes and virtual food to virtual land.

When you sign up for an account, you'll receive 250 Linden dollars simply by entering your credit card number. Your card isn't charged at that point, but the company knows that with your number in hand, it will be easier to charge you in the future. If you want additional Linden dollars, you can purchase them at any time. For $9.95 a month, you can also sign up for a premium account that provides 300 Linden a week.

In this virtual world, exchange rates will vary—yes, that's actually the case—but right now, $1 buys you about 270 Linden dollars on the open market. No one signs up for a premium account merely for the Linden dollars. Rather, they do it to gain access to real estate. Switching to a premium account is the only way to buy land in Second Life. And we all know how important land is. Once you purchase land, you can build a house, furnish it, stock the refrigerator, and invite friends for a cookout. Buying land gives you an anchor in this virtual world. Otherwise, you're just a wandering spirit.

The flipside is that you can also make money in this virtual world. Linden Lab has seeded the basic 3D environment, but in effect, Second Life is built and owned entirely by its residents. Once you purchase land, you can sell it at a profit. You can also build and sell all sorts of other goods and services. Linden provides simple 3D tools for creating almost anything.

The design tools are wonderfully simple. You begin with "primitive" geometric shapes, and you're free to color them, change their texture, slap on JPEGs, expand them, attach them together, and more. You can build anything from a moth to a mausoleum. Adding behaviors can take a bit of scripting—Linden offers its own Java-like language—but with a few lines of code, you can instruct objects to move from place to place, play music, respond to commands, and so on. Having trouble learning the ins and outs of these tools? No problem. Tutorials are available from Linden Labs—and from other users.

You keep the stuff you make for yourself or you can sell it. You can open a retail store or start a house-building business, run a casino or become a landscaper. The possibilities are almost endless. With turnover of more than $650,000 a day, it's obvious that numerous individuals and even companies are using Second Life to make money.

Real-World Implications

In December, a Chinese woman named Ailin Graef announced that she had amassed virtual real-estate holdings worth over $1 million. Her 3D avatar, Anshe Chung, made the cover of Business Week.

Meanwhile, big-name corporations are using Second Life's virtual world for marketing purposes. Cisco recently opened up a "virtual headquarters" and shows off real-world products in its virtual amphitheater. Shoemakers such as Adidas and Reebok are selling virtual shoes. And car makers such as Pontiac and Toyota are selling virtual cars. Starwood has even built a virtual version of its new hotel chain.

Then there's the virtual charity work. Organizations such as Save the Children use Second Life to raise real dollars. If you purchase a "virtual yak" at the Save the Children "Yak Shack," you're contributing real money toward real yaks for very real children in Tibet. Laugh if you like. But at the end of the day, those Tibetan children get milk, wool, and much-needed help in plowing fields. That's as real as it gets.

Second Life's 3D graphics are on a par with those of There.com, but when I ran the service on a midrange laptop, it did seem a tad slower than There.com. The system requirements are pretty hefty, and Linden is quite specific about the graphics cards it supports. You may have problem if you're not using a fairly new card from nVidia or ATI. It's also worth noting that, at least for the moment, Second Life will not run on ATI-equipped machines that use Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system. ATI has yet to offer OpenGL drivers for the new OS.

Source

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