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  Voice in ‘Second Life’… Testing… Testing…  
Posted 2007-03-07 by Tony Walsh
Can you hear me now? Selected testers got an early glimpse yesterday of real-time voice communication in the virtual world Second Life. The new voice services, provided by third-party developer Vivox, are expected to be rolled out in Second Life's "First Look" client this spring and provide users with both proximity- and group-based communication at a quality level comparable to (if not slightly better than) Skype.

First-hand reports from the early tests have come in from Johnny Ming of Secondcast (and The Electric Sheep Company) in podcast format, as well as from Satchmo Protoype (also of the Sheep) in blog format. Ming says that a bridge to real-world telephones (as demonstrated last year) is planned for launch within 6 months.

"[T]he experience was amazing," Prototype wrote of his experience with voice in Second Life, comparing it to a crowded cocktail party (sans booze, I assume). "We were all trying to navigate the etiquette of voice, while being totally exciting and wanting to talk at the same time. We eventually got a large group of 20+ avatars and while it was chaotic at times for the most part it worked great. We did a stress test by all talking and singing at the same time and you could still here the voices as if you were on a crowded subway platform."

I'm fairly confident that the upcoming voice capabilities will improve the quality of the experience and immersion for some Second Life users, as well as increase the platform's potential for productivity. Based on the latest edition of Secondcast I get the impression that  
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