From Coffee & Power to High Fidelity

Philip Rosedale, Second Life founder, has a new project to build a new virtual world – High Fidelity. He has a team that also includes, as community manager, Jeska Dzwigalski, another Linden Lab veteran.

The goal is vague but ambitious – something about cloud/peer-to-peer, low latency and high scalability virtual worlds. There is a picture of some glasses and a circuit board.

We’re building a new virtual world enabling rich avatar interactions driven by sensor-equipped hardware, simulated and served by devices (phones, tablets and laptops/desktops) contributed by end-users.

And with Minecraft still ruling the world, voxels haven’t been forgotten:

Voxels. We’re making a strategic bet that rich computer rendering is heading there. Imagine an experience with cubes of many different sizes, with the ability to scale them down to a seamless molecular fabric. Now imagine these building blocks manifesting complex physical properties.

Finally, imagine that world extending visibly to vanishing points like our world does today, enabling you to see your house, your neighborhood, distant mountains, and other planets in the sky. We believe computing power and network transmission speeds are evolving to make such a world possible, represented by a sparse voxel octree data structure.

A pleasant mix of techy terms and jargon and grand visioneering. All in all it is so grand and vision-y that I struggle to see this as more that some kind of dream vapourware. The main saving grace is the vagueness of it all means that they should be able to ship something – it just might not be what something reading the page thinks it is.

Perhaps more interesting is the way that the new enterprise is making use of Worklist. At the bottom of the High Fidelity page you’ll see some jobs currently open for bidding – a kind of micro-outsourcing which offers small jobs openly. Developers bid for the work and High Fidelity presumably pay for completed (and accepted) deliverables. The jobs offered again encourage inferences about what High Fidelity is going to be (e.g. Build circuit board with LED/Photodiode reflecting off eyeball). Worklist provides a contracting process where payment is by results, an Amazon Mechanical Turk for high-skilled workers, with no upfront payouts and reducing the need to actually employ people. A crowdspring/99designs for coders, with added teamwork features. Worklist itself is a product of Philip’s last startup, Coffee & Power (more here), and for now it seems to be the one of the few ways of keeping tabs on what is actually being attempted. But anyone who saw the alpha versions of Second Life will know that a lot can change along the way…

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