Someday has arrived.
Someday the net will enable robust, shared 3D experiences.
Someday robust, shared 3D experiences will be secure and stable.
Someday robust, shared 3D experiences that are secure and stable will be relatively simple to produce using mostly off-the-shelf and familiar tools.
Someday robust, shared 3D experiences that are secure and stable, created with off-the-shelf, familiar tools will produce income for those who create them, and those who enable that creation.
Someday robust, shared 3D experiences that are secure and stable and that produce income for creators and enablers will take us to the next level in learning, gaming, and shared online experience.
I met Jim Sink, VP for Business Development for Avatar Reality when I interviewed him as he represented his company as a “Fire Starter” at the annual SNS Future In Review Conference. Later, I lunched with Jim and the company co-founder Henk Rogers (of Tetris fame), and science fiction writer Brenda Cooper, and we discussed the future of virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the truly exciting vistas now being opened by faster internet connections and standard processer and graphics boards now capable of running high-end 3D experiences.
Then, last week while in Honolulu to speak on the future of travel and tourism, I took advantage of being there and Jim was kind enough to host an hour-long visit to the offices of Avatar Reality where they are creating Blue Mars, the next big thing in shared, immersive 3D experience on the web. Even though I am familiar with the dreams driving this kind of development, from my years of association with the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington, I am very impressed with the direction that Blue Mars is taking, and cannot wait for the consumer beta to drop in August 2009.
Most of us are familiar with online worlds like World of Warcraft, or Second Life, each of which offers a kind of shared 3D experience. World of Warcraft has succeeded financially with a subsriber model, while Second Life has succeeded by building an internal economy of Linden dollars that correspond to real dollars, some $400 million exchanged in 2008 according to reports.
Blue Mars aims to take us to the next level, by differentiating in several ways. First, the graphics that will be the standard are near big-screen quality. Second, they have invited world developers into a cooperative, shared revenue model, that enables developers to use off-the-shelf graphics tools they are familiar with. Worlds are created off-line, then uploaded. Blue Mars is providing a developer platform with a variety of standard features, like shopping sites and stores, billboards that tie to websites and flash videos, gaming technologies, avatars that have super realism and movement, and clothing that flows and moves like the real thing. Interaction speeds will be very fast, because world elements are fixed and the system is set up in such a way that only elements in a scene that change will be updated in real time, meaning faster response times and a much lower load on the net itself. This increased world stability and fast speed will enable more players to be in a world together. For example, it is possible that many thousands of avatars may attend a stadium event in real time, something like a concert or rally.
World objects, created off-line and fixed at that point, are registered by Blue Mars before they are released into the world. Thus, IP is protected and worlds are more stable than others; only developers may change the world, and rouge community members will not be able to send unregistered objects flying into and sabotaging your scene. Worlds can also be walled from those who are not subscribers. Within worlds subscribers or users may rent their own homes or storefronts, and conduct social and business interactions as in similar online worlds, but again in a more secure way.
The revenue model will be a hybrid and sounds like a winner for Avatar, developers, and users alike. Many worlds will be available – I previewed one called New Venice.
You can watch video previews of Blue Mars features and worlds Blue Mars on YouTube.
Blue Mars Trailer (June 2009)
Blue Mars in Development
I have long anticipated the day that we could move to the next level of shared, immersive experience on the web. That someday has arrived.
Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet video host and founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.