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Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Google Adds virtual Reality Features to Your Social Networking Profile With New 'Lively'

Internet search leader Google hopes to orchestrate more fantasizing on the Web with the release of "lively', a 3D virtual web experience.

Lively is a free service in which 3-D software enables people to congregate in virtual electronic rooms. The service is Google's answer to a 5-year-old site, Second Life, where people deploy animated alter egos known as avatars to navigate through virtual reality.

Google hopes that Lively will attract web users to dive into alternate realities because it isn't tethered to one Web site like Second Life, and it doesn't cost anything to use. After installing a small packet of software, a user can enter Lively from other Web sites, like social networking sites and blogs.

The Lively application already works on Faceboo and Google is working on a version suitable for MySpace.

"The Lively team wants to help people experience another dimension of the web, " said Niniane Wang, Engineering Manager of Google. "We hope you will use the product to express yourself with and without words, and to do this in the places you already visit on the web."

Google has no plans to sell advertising in Lively. However, the service could still indirectly help the company if it encourages people to remain online longer.

If you enter a Lively room embedded on your favorite blog or website, you can immediately get a sense of the room creator's interests, just by looking at the furniture and environment they chose. You can also express your own personality by customizing your avatar's look, showing people who you are without having to say a word. Of course, you can chat with each other, and you can also interact through animated actions.

Lively users can then invite their friends and family into their virtual realities, where they can chat, and interact as if they were characters in a video game.

Prior to this release, Google worked closely with Arizona State University. Based on feedback from ASU students and with help from the Google Desktop team, the company added support for playing YouTube videos in virtual TVs and showing photos in virtual picture frames inside Lively's rooms. Gadgets you have in your Lively rooms can also run on your desktop.

You can read more information about Lively at The software can be also downloaded for free from Lively's web page.

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