April 25, 2007
Back in October I discussed VoIP in Second Life
and joked about the need for e911 emergency services within this virtual world. Well, according to CNet, in the next several months, "Second Life avatars may find their long-awaited voice, said Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab, publisher of the virtual world." Voice has been in "beta" within Second Life for awhile, so I assume this means the "official launch".
In the CNet article, Rosedale states something interesting: "There are a lot of problems with telephony when doing conference calls. You can't tell who's talking if there's more than one person. But in the virtual world, voice solves it," said Rosedale, noting that avatars with three-dimensional voice integration will likely accelerate using Second Life for holding virtual conference meetings.
The 3D voice inside Second Life is interesting. When a person to your left within Second Life speaks something, your speaker's/headphone's Left channel will output the sound. Ditto for someone speaking to your right within this virtual world. If a person is directly ahead of you, both the left and right channel will output the volume equally. Second Life utilizes technology from Diamondware, which isn't "new" news - it was covered by TMC's writers here and here.
The brains behind the technology is Keith Weiner, the founder of DiamondWare. I've met with Keith a few times over the years at TMC's Internet Telephony Conference & Expo and it was quite obvious that he is an extreme audiophile and expert in audio acoustics. Second Life was smart to use his technology.
I would like to see Second Life integrate lip-synching technology to go along with the voice over IP. I mean who wants to look at an avatar that is speaking but the lips don't move? Probably the coolest lip-synching avatar technology I've used is from Gizmoz. You can pick avatars such as Sanjaya, Saddam, Osama, Hilary Clinton, etc. and add your voice to it and it will be lip-synched. Of course, their technology is post-processing - not real-time processing of your voice, which is needed in Second Life. Still, it can't be hard to come up with some simple lip movements as you speak within Second Life.
Update: (April 30th) Gizmoz DOES indeed support real-time lip synching. I tested Gizmoz with a co-worker back in January and I was never able to get the real-time lip synching to work. A few months passed and I must have forgotten that Gizmoz told me that it does support real-time lip synching. I'll have to find some free time to try it again.
If curious, here are a few examples of Gizmoz in action: