Sunday, March 21, 2010

web.alive worldlets coming to a browser near you

The web.alive ptatform permits creating multiuser virtual worldlets that can be embedded in web pages. The worldlets are full 3D with physics and support multiuser voice chat and streaming video from standard sources. web.alive is very easy to install (visit any web.alive worldlet on the web and accept the installation the web.alive plugin) and very easy to use.

In the picture above I am visiting the new MellaniuM Bar in the MellaniuM Dome, developed by one of the most active web.alive developers, and talking to MellaniuM and Avaya representatives. I often drop in the MellaniuM Dome and other public access web.alive worldlets to talk to developers and users. The visual quality of most public access worldlets is more or less like Second Life. 3D development for the web.alive platform is done with standard 3D design tools and the free version of the Unreal engine as integration environment, so web.alive can host also very high quality 3D models (see the dinosaurs and the replica of the Titanic in the MellaniuM dome.

The picture above was taken in the IBM virtual Business Analytics Center -- which is also based on web.alive and designed to support IBM Business Analytics & Optimization services. VR worldlets developed with web.alive can be integrated with back-end business systems, which is important for business users. See also this review.

The picture above was taken in the Lenovo virtual showroom (see here for a description). In the virtual showroom, customers can see Lenovo products and talk to Lenovo sales representatives. This is an ideal application of web.alive which leverages the main selling point of the platform: 3D worldlets very easy to use and optimized for casual users, which run directly in the browser. Other applications suitable for web.alive are 3D exhibitions, architecture, presentations to the public, and light e-learning applications.

In today's attention economy, many users are just not interested enough to bother installing a dedicated 3D client and learning how to use it, so web.alive is a good platform to target casual users and reach a broader audience. Also, many business operators have the perception (wrong, in my opinion, but this is the perception they have) that end users are too stupid to install a dedicated 3D client and learn how to use it, so they should consider web.alive as a very interesting platform. At the same time web.alive permits creating full and visually compelling 3D worlds (not like those horrible 2.5D worlds) with physics, voice, video and integration with business back-end systems. I can recommend web.alive for all 3D projects aimed at a large audience of casual users. It is definitely one of the few systems that should be taken into serious condideration by serious operators. Others are Teleplace, the best application for professional collaboration and deep interactive e-learning, and of course the beautiful (and now technically very advanced) metaverse of Second Life.


  1. At least Metaplace was something I could access from my Macintosh. At least Teleplace does that. WebAlive doesn't provide any information on their web site for end users - only for corporate. You have to reach out to and engage a customer base to be useful for corporate - their design is putting the cart before the horse! They need a more experienced management team. Most of the information I tried to get to was marked "Sales". I am in the market for exploring, not buying, and the "about us" information was named "sales brochure.pdf" instead of something that contains their name, like "WebAliveInformation.pdf". Given that the education market is so heavily Macintosh, especially at my university, this would not be anything for us to explore until they are substantially more developed.

  2. Being a Mac person myself, I can only agree on the need for Mac support. I have also Windows PCs, but I only use them for Mac-unfriendly apps, like web.alive (at this moment). I suppose the lack of Mac support has to do with the fact that the back-end Unreal engine has no Mac support. And then, you know... Windows still has a dominant market share, and so we Mac lovers are not a top priority for software makers.

    I think the web.alive business model targets corporate clients, which, in turn, will target end users. At this moment there are only a few public access web.alive worldlets out there, but I am sure some major operator will create worlds for end users, and make end user documentation available. But the interface is very easy to learn and almost explains itself. Feel free to email me for more info.

  3. I would also like to introduce you to our platform, VirtualU, built on the Active Worlds Engine. We just finished streaming the 2010 Virtual Edge conference through our platform and you can see the engaging results on this Youtube Video.
    Sure, it requires a minimal client download, but the results and final experience is superior to any browser based options available today. It seems very strange that in a day when most download several apps to their phone frequently, downloading a client for a 3D virtual environment still remains an issue.
    You can join our universe by registering at I look forward to seeing you there.

  4. @James: wow interesting. Based on what I remember of the Active Worlds platform 2 or 3 years ago, I don't think it is superior to web.alive, quite the contrary instead. But I have not seen recent developments in AW, so perhaps I am mistaken.

    Concerning client vs browser, I think it depends on the degree of interest of the user, and that a browser plugin is better for casual users.

    There is an interesting and powerful argument in favor of a dedicated client: it only depends on the operation systems, and not also on the browser. Multiplying [Windows Mac RedHat Ubuntu Suse...] x [IE Firefox Safari Opera Chrome...] may result in too big a space for testing and configuration control.