I've been a debunker of Second Life. Why? It's not real.
But I have come to believe that when you inject real-life production value elements, (and I don't mean Linden dollars) into Second Life, then Second Life attains a patina of reality.
In terms of exports from the carbon-based world to the silicon-based world, the human voice is as real as you get.
This feature is apparently ont eh way to Second Life.
Colleague Dawn Kawamoto reports that within the next several months, there may be plans underfoot for Second Life avatars to possess voice capability.
That concept was discussed in a Gartner Symposium ITexpokeynote speech yesterday by Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab. Linden is publisher of the virtual world.
"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."
Update: As my colleague Larry Dignan notes, Gartner analyst Jim Lundy asked about the benefit to businesses of voice-enabled Second Life avatars.
"Business opportunities abound by engaging with people through a design process or review of what you're doing," said Rosedale.
Larry also notes that Rosedale said collaboration and meetings will also a draw for businesses, but Rosedale noted that Second Life's voice applications may be of more use to enterprises. Why? It's easier to gather market intelligence via interviews. "I do think people even today have a willingness to engage in a conversation beyond what they'd do chair to chair," said Rosedale.
I could see this working, but in the broader Second Life community first. Most members would like to arm their avatars with a voice. I mean, by virtue of their UI, these avatars already have personalities that "talk," in a way.
But business users?
Probably just first for conferences in edgy digital tech sectors such as technology marketing and advertising. Life insurance business conferences? Well, uh, not yet.