I periodically dig around a bit to see what’s new in the browser-based “3D internet” realm because I think that the evolution of the internet into a 3D space is the long-term reason it makes sense to be paying attention to virtual worlds now — and it is a reason that skeptical colleagues understand. Earlier this year, I came across Smallworlds, which integrates YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, and various social networking sites into a browser-based virtual world. Today, I found ExitReality (currently in beta) which raises the stakes.
After signing up for ExitReality’s beta, downloading a browser plugin, and typing in VB’s address, I found myself walking through my own site as an avatar in a full-sized browser window. ExitReality basically makes your blog, storefront, or personal web page into a virtual world, and it does this on the fly. Cool, huh?
Here’s a big screenshot so you can see what I’m talking about without signing up for the beta and jumping through the download hoops yourself.
You can even install couches and jukeboxes in the 3D version of your site so people can have their avatars sit down and listen to an audio stream while they chat about your articles or products or whatever in real time.
ExitReality is not perfect. It wouldn’t load when I had my laptop hooked into a big LCD monitor, it crashed a couple of times, it has a name that may alienate even more people than “Second Life” does, and most critically, because no one writes sites with 3D navigation in mind yet, navigating this way was actually less intuitive than navigating most flat sites. Who cares? I am walking around my own web site this morning, and that makes me grin.
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