Social Virtual Worlds (SocialVW/SocialVR)

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The last couple of years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of social virtual worlds around. We define such platforms as internet based 3D environments which are open to general use, are multi-user (so you can see and talk to other people) and within which users are able to create their own spaces. The worlds are typically accessible by both a flat screen (PC/Mac, and sometimes mobile/tablet) and through a VR headset.

At Daden we’ve been using these sorts of environments since the early 2000s. What is really beginning to change the game now is the emergence of WebXR social virtual worlds. These are completely web-delivered, so you only need your browser to access them (from PC, mobile and even VR headset), so there is no download, minimal differences between platforms and really easy access. They are emerging as a great way to get people off of Zoom and into somewhere more engaging for whatever social or collaborative task you need to do. The key examples at the moment are probably Mozilla Hubs and Framevr.io.

Below we highlight some of the key affordances, benefits and uses of these WebXR Social Virtual Worlds, and if you’d like to investigate using them in your company, college or organisation then do get in touch.

  • Fully 3D, multi-user, avatar based, with full freedom of exploration

  • In-world audio (often spatial) and text chat

  • Runs without any download – and even on locked down desktops

  • Graphics optimised for lower bandwidths and less powerful devices

  • Out-the-box  set of collaboration tools, eg*: screen-share, document-share, whiteboard, shared web browser (*depends on world)

  • Free access model for low usage, many also open source

  • Developer ability (us) to build custom environments

  • Limited scripting ability at the moment

  • Give meetings more of a sense of “space” than video calls

  • Use environment and movement to help anchor the sessions and learning in memory

  • Help train what you can’t usually teach in the classroom

  • Excite and engage students and employees
     

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We're also working up an analysis summary tool to describe the capabilities of social virtual worlds (and similar spaces), and a comparison between them - watch this space and read the blog post.

As an introduction to what these worlds are like in a learning, business and commercial context then why not visit our Virtual Experience Design Space (VEDS). This can be accessed from any web browser (even tablet/mobile) or headset which is WebXR compatible (i.e. most current ones) and you can move around in the space, try out some of the collaboration tools and even talk to any other visitors. The space specifically has a number of design frameworks to help teams think through virtual experience design in general and and vlearning/vtraining design in particular. You can read a bit more about VEDS and watch a video in our blog post, and our white paper on vlearning provides useful background to the tools - and can even be read in the space. You can access VEDS right now at: https://hubs.mozilla.com/PNaoEvs/daden-virtual-experience-design-space.

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If you'd like to know more about business and educational use of Social Virtual Worlds and their underlying technologies then do get in touch and we can arrange a chat and live demo. You can also read about (and see some demos of) the the WebXR technology that underlies these worlds on our WebXR page.

You can download a PDF summary of our approach to  Social Virtual Worlds.