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Second Life Founder's New Virtual World Uses Body Tracking Hardware

May 22, 2013 | Telepresence Options

phillip rosedale secondlife


Story and Images by Tom Simonite / technologyreview

Hardware that tracks your head, eyes and hands will make the follow up to Second Life very different to the pioneering virtual world.

The founder of once-popular virtual world Second Life, Philip Rosedale, is working on a new 3D digital world that looks like it will be operated using gestures and body-tracking hardware. Rosedale declined to talk about his new company, called�High Fidelity, just yet. But videos and other material posted online by the company suggest it is working on an impressively immersive virtual reality experience where you control an avatar using head and hand movements.

In the YouTube video embedded below a crude avatar copies the head movements of someone at High Fidelity wearing spectables with an exposed circuitboard attached. A simple but workable animation even mirrors the man's speech with the avatar's own mouth. (The text being read is from�Snow Crash, a Neal Stephenson novel that features a virtual world called the Metaverse and popularized the term avatar).

Rosedale this week�tweeted a photo�of headphones with similar exposed electronics that he described as "head gyros", presumably referring to gyroscopes used to detect rotation.

This ad asking for contractors�states that High Fidelity even has a Google Glass app to allow head motion to "move the avatar head and/or joints", and�this video shows�that they also have code that enables a smartphone to be used like a Wii-controller to take control of a character in a virtual world.

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