Second Life Meets Mobile Life

12 02 2007

mobile secondlifeA new application by software developer Comverse Technology allows the immersive 3D environment, Second Life, to be accessed on internet-connected mobile devices running Java ME. SMS and video streaming can also be integrated between Second Life’s virtual world and the real one.

What does this mean? Well, for a start, Second Life characters are becoming increasingly like real people. Being able to SMS, text, and video-chat with Second Life Characters on both your computer and mobile phone is making these avatars as substantial (or at least, as accessible) as many flesh-and-blood friends and contacts.

Could it be long before virtual avatars begin to blur the boundaries between real and scripted conversation? Try having a chat with a completely automated chat generator; sometimes, it can be eerily like having a chat with a real person. Imagine being able to ask a virtual avatar questions we might ordinarily ask a teacher, and getting back instant guidance or feedback. As a test, I asked the automated chat generator “What is the meaning of life?” and it immediately shot back the very interesting answer “To pursue happiness for ourselves and those we love”. Although that’s a programmed response to a fairly common question, it might not be long until we can “call” a virtual “professor” and ask them questions like “What is the scientific name for the wolf?” or “How do I make a berry souffle?” and get meaningful, useful – and reliable – answers.

Being able to access a virtual guide or mentor from mobile devices could make for learning opportunities – anytime, anywhere, for help with almost anything. While it’s going to be decades before virtual avatars have the intelligence to weight issues – and thus go beyond supplying simple facts or opinions – a lot of the time, all we really need are the facts or opinions, to which we can apply our own intelligence to construct knowledge and make decisions; that, too, is learning.

[Link: Second Life Reuters via Connected Learning Community]

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