Linden Lab, creator of the virtual world Second Life, and IBM have successfully demonstrated virtual world interoperability by teleporting avatars between the Second Life Preview Grid and an OpenSim virtual world server. The joint development project represents an industry first of a quantifiable milestone for virtual world interconnectivity. The Second Life Grid is a development platform created by Linden Lab to create a new form of shared 3D experience.
Teleporting an avatar between platforms has the potential to have a significant impact on the future of virtual worlds. An open standard for interoperability would allow users to cross freely from one world to another in a seamless transfer, just as they can go from one Web site to another on the Internet today.
"Interoperability is a key component of the 3D Internet and an important step to enabling individuals and organizations to take advantage of virtual worlds for commerce, collaboration, education, operations and other business applications," said Colin Parris, Vice President, Digital Convergence, IBM. "Developing this protocol is a key milestone and has the potential to push virtual worlds into the next stage of their evolution."
To facilitate the continued development of this interoperability function, technical details will be made available to the community. The protocol interactions used for the teleport will be documented on the Web site of the Architecture Working Group (AWG), an open forum that is designing and publishing the Open Grid Protocol. IBM plans to offer the extensions developed for OpenSim to the OpenSim community, and Linden Lab plans to make the extensions developed for the Second Life viewer available as open source. To foster testing and further development, a test grid will be made available by Linden Lab.
The interoperability protocol was tested and deployed on a separated test environment involving the Second Life Preview Grid and an OpenSim server. The companies have not announced plans or a schedule for when it might be made available on the main Second Life Grid.
A video of Linden Lab and IBM's development teams successfully teleporting avatars is available.