Friday, August 29, 2008

A Virtual World based on Google Earth ?

How to populate Google Earth with millions of avatars...

Some might argue that Google Earth is already a Virtual World. But what I mean here is a different thing: I want to see and interact with the people that are in the same place I am. When I stand in Hyde Park London, I want to hear the conversation and participate.

Fig. 1: Twinverse distributed algorithm running on a torus-shaped world.
Black dots are users' computers positioned at their virtual location.

The Metaverse Roadmap group envisions a Google Earth -250 millions of downloads- populated by millions of avatars as a probable future of the web and in a article called Second Earth, MIT's Technology Review depicts a virtual world, mix of Second Life and Google Earth:
But within 10 to 20 years [...] something much bigger [...] may emerge: a true Metaverse. In Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel [...] the Metaverse was a planet-size virtual city that could hold up to 120 million avatars, each representing someone in search of entertainment, trade, or social contact. The Metaverse that's really on the way, some experts believe, will resemble Stephenson's vision, but with many alterations. It will look like the real earth, and it will support even more users than the Snow Crash cyberworld [...]. It will be accessible both in its immersive, virtual-reality form and through peepholes like the screen of your cell phone as you make your way through the real world.

Why wait 10-20 years ?
This is a very long time to wait in internet dog's years and -inevitably- the omnipotent Google has been rumored several times to be near of putting a end to the waiting but Google finally came up with a deceiving Lively.
In the same article, the explanation of why we should wait that long comes:
This architecture is what makes it next to impossible to imagine re-creating a full-scale earth within Second Life, even at a low level of detail. At one region per server, simulating just the 29.2 percent of the planet's surface that's dry land would require 2.3 billion servers and 150 dedicated nuclear power plants to keep them running. It's the kind of system that "doesn't scale well," to use the jargon of information technology.
Sure, if you think the only possible technology is the one-server-per-region system, it's not possible to populated Google Earth just now and even 20 years might not be enough. But, Twinverse, taking the problem upside down, have found a solution. See previous post.

Fig 2: Is the world flat or doughnut shaped ?

It's like no one wants to discard the one-server-per-region rule. Even the so called peer-to-peer systems Metaverse Project, Outback, Croquet, etc... just stick to the one-server-per-region (the peers host the servers).

Twinverse paradigm shift: one-computer-per-avatar that's the new rule, that's the eureka. After all, why an empty virtual region -with nobody actually seeing it- would ever need computing power?
Avatars meeting in someplace can collaborate to “give life” to their surrounding and make the needed computations.
One computer per avatar seems a lot, but indeed only today ~1% of a computer is needed and also just in case you forgot: when connecting to a virtual world, a user already has a computer.
Few weeks ago, Twinverse has launched beta a virtual world on top (inside?) Google Maps. This has good points since it runs inside a web browser and integrates seamlessly with the web. But 3D is still missing.
How far are we from the “true Metaverse” depicted by MIT's Technology Review ?
Not very far. If the teams in charge of Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth open up a little bit further their APIs this will be ready in months, not years.
Fig 3: Twinverse screenshot of the day


Anonymous said...

Then you begin to really stretch the imagination. Can you have a layered Twinverse?

Today's planet. America in 1776 or 1862. Europe in 1520. Egypt in 2000BC. Can I "stand" over Hollywood, California and move a slider on the screen and watch the town grow over time from a small Mexican village to the entertainment capitol of the modern world?

Just thinking ahead.

Hugobiwan Zolnir said...

we believe a lot in metaverse vision and are going to buzz Twinverse the more we can !!!

Congratulations for this great article.

謝雅柏 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................