Following up on my writings about a Second Life Client for mobile phones being developed by Vollee — a company specializing in bringing full-blown PC games to mobile phones by using the company’s machines for heavy processing and then streaming the result to handsets.
I exchanged emails with Julian Corbett, head of Business Development at Vollee, who revealed that the Mobile Second Life Client (SL) would not be limited to 3G but that Wi-Fi connectivity would also be enabled. This begged three additional questions which were courteously answered by Corbett.
In short, the following was clarified:
- iPhone’s will be supported by Vollee.
- The Mobile SL client will be Wi-Fi enabled in addition to 3G.
- The Client seen in the video (see last post) is a Java implementation.
Here are my questions to Vollee, reposted with answers from Julian Corbett and additional notes from myself.
- Could you provide me with any kind of technical explanations of what your software is? Is it Java?
- With Wi-Fi connections possible, is it a requirement that the phone is 3G [enabled or that people have] a 3G contract with their carrier?
- Will it technically be able to run on iPhones currently in circulation; and if not, will it be able to run on iPhones after a software update from Apple?
Client Simplicity Equals Ease of Portability
“On the client side (your phone) we have a rather basic player (approx 100k). All is does is display the images and captures key clicks that are sent back in a heartbeat back to our servers. All of the intelligence of our system is really on the server side. The client itself can be ported to any platform (Java, BREW, Windows mobile, Symbian…). What you see on youtube is running on a Java client (generally the most limiting of all the platforms)”
As stated before, their servers do the heavy lifting in Second Life. The client application (made possible by Linden Lab open-sourcing their client) streams the screen and sends player actions back to their servers.
Wi-Fi Support in the Works
“We talk about 3G phones as – other than the iPhone (and even that will likely soon change) there are very few wi-fi enabled phones that are not also 3G. But all we need is a fast connection, so yes wi-fi works fine”
To brush off what could otherwise be considered ambiguous in the above statement, this was my original question and consequent answer:
Hrafn: “Given a phone without 3G, like the iPhone, will it not be able to utilize Wi-Fi to run the mobile SL client?”
Unknown Vollee employee: “Yes, wi-fi is also supported.”
So one might deduce that Vollee is focusing on 3G- but will include Wi-Fi connectivity.
I’m personally excited over this as I’m quite the enthusiast of mobile and wearable computing.
I’ve tried iPhone screen-streaming software to run heavy applications; VNSea and telekinesis, but I’m afraid both of these had too low screen refresh rates for interactivity with graphic-intensive applications. (To be fair this was about three months ago so the refresh rate has possibly improved).
iPhone Will Be Supported By Vollee
“iPhone will be supported by Vollee. We are still working on making sure we have an optimized experience for the device but it is coming!”
Unfortunately the company was not prepared to release any videos or photos of the software. For now all they could say was that they were working on it.
Previous news of the phone applications demonstrated at GDC’08 have been very positive with regards to controlling Second Life. While Corbett’s answer is somewhat vague, with Java on its way to the iPhone I suppose their hurry to make a port for 3G-less devices follows hand-in-hand with demand and interest. Corbett continues:
“… For this to be successful we are looking to get as many SL residents as possible interested in this service for the open beta. The more people who sign up the more handsets we will support and the more features (such as mouse interactions and transactions) will be coming. If we feel that there is a real strong demand and interest from the SL community there are a LOT more things we can do …
So people with iPhones, iPod Touch (or similar mobile Wi-Fi devices) can improve the likelihood of stand-alone Wi-Fi support by pre-registering on Vollee’s site for the beta rollout which begins in May.
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