Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Parallel Lives...

Avatar in Twinity

The idea of having a virtual you following the real you around may seem rather strange - for those of us used to having our feet firmly on the ground.

But the creation of a virtual Berlin lets people be in two places at the same time - as 20km of the city has been faithfully replicated into an online world.

By the end of 2008, 50,000 buildings in the German capital are expected to have been copied into the virtual world.

"While Second Life and others worlds offer some stylised versions of cities - Twinity uses the 3D mapping data currently used for things like satnav and Google Earth," said Jochen Hummel, the chief executive of Metaversum - owner of Twinity.

"One by one each building is then made to look as it would in the real world," he said.

Jochen Hummel, chief executive of Metaversum
Twinity hopes to offer a space for "virtual tourism"

Twinity's Berlin, which it calls a "metaverse" has been created by taking pictures of the city and using them to build 3D facades.

Volunteer developers may soon be encouraged to add their own or adapt existing ones, like users updating and adding entries in Wikipedia.

Emphasis on realism

While many online worlds are put to frivolous uses, Metaversum sees Twinity as a step beyond gaming.

"It's a space for virtual tourism," said Mr von Hardenberg. "The realism of this platform could help you plan a trip here, or just help you get your bearings before you arrive."

So far the closest many come to wandering around the globe is through 3D-mapping applications such as Google Earth that provide a snapshot of places.

Twinity emphasises realism, but the mantra for the virtual world is "be nice".

Mr Hardenberg hopes the platform will gain an audience beyond the core male gamers and attract more women.

"It's a social environment for meeting people, visiting galleries, or online shopping. Users are encouraged to create avatars that look just like them so they'll be recognised and to use their real names," he said.

Twinity has one advantage over reality when it comes to transport because there are no cars and visitors simply teleport to key locations.

Extracted from the full article at : BBC News

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