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Thursday, October 11, 2007

IBM and Linden Lab Launch Collaboration to Further Advance the 3D Internet

IBM and Linden Lab, creator of the virtual world Second Life, today announced the intent to develop new technologies and methodologies based on open standards that will help advance the future of 3D virtual worlds.

As more enterprises and consumers explore the 3D Internet, the ecosystem of virtual world hosts, application providers, and IT vendors need to offer a variety of standards-based solutions in order to meet end user requirements. To support this, IBM and Linden Lab are committed to exploring the interoperability of virtual world platforms and technologies, and plan to work with industry-wide efforts to further expand the capabilities of virtual worlds.

"As the 3D Internet becomes more integrated with the current Web, we see users demanding more from these environments and desiring virtual worlds that are fit for business," said Colin Parris, vice president, Digital Convergence, IBM. "BM and Linden Lab's working together can help accelerate the use and further development of common standards and tools that will contribute to this new environment."

"We have built the Second Life Grid as part of the evolution of the Internet," said Ginsu Yoon, vice president, Business Affairs, Linden Lab. "Linden and IBM shares a vision that interoperability is key to the continued expansion of the 3D Internet, and that this tighter integration will benefit the entire industry. Our open source development of interoperable formats and protocols will accelerate the growth and adoption of all virtual worlds."

IBM and Linden Lab plan to work together on issues concerning the integration of virtual worlds with the current Web; driving security-rich transactions of virtual goods and services; working with the industry to enable interoperability between various virtual worlds; and building more stability and high quality of service into virtual world platforms. These are expected to be key characteristics facing organizations which want to take advantage of virtual worlds for commerce, collaboration, education and other business applications.

More specifically, IBM and Linden Lab plan to collaborate on:

- "Universal" Avatars: Exploring technology and standards for users of the 3D Internet to seamlessly travel between different virtual worlds. Users could maintain the same “avatar” name, appearance and other important attributes (digital assets, identity certificates, and more) for multiple worlds. The adoption of a universal “avatar” and associated services are a possible first step toward the creation of a truly interoperable 3D Internet.

- Security-rich Transactions: Collaborating on the requirements for standards-based software designed to enable the security-rich exchange of assets in and across virtual worlds. This could allow users to perform purchases or sales with other people in virtual worlds for digital assets including 3D models, music, and media, in an environment with robust security and reliability features.

- Platform stability: Making interfaces easier to use in order to accelerate user adoption, deliver faster response times for real-world interactions and provide for high-volume business use.

- Integration with existing Web and business processes: Allowing current business applications and data repositories – regardless of their source – to function in virtual worlds is anticipated to help enable widespread adoption and rapid dissemination of business capabilities for the 3D Internet.

- Open standards for interoperability with the current Web: Open source development of interoperable formats and protocols. Open standards in this area are expected to allow virtual worlds to connect together so that users can cross from one world to another, just like they can go from one web page to another on the Internet today.

IBM is actively working with a number of companies in the IT and virtual world community on the development of standards-based technologies. This week IBM hosted an industry wide meeting to discuss virtual world interoperability, the role of standards andthe potential of forming an industry wide consortium open to all. This meeting is expected to also begin to address the technical challenges of interoperability and required and recommended standards.

Linden Lab has formed an Architecture Working Group that describes the roadmap for the development of the Second Life Grid. This open collaboration with the community allows users of Second Life to help define the direction of an interoperable, Internet-scale architecture.

Press Release - IBM