Real-Time Online Virtual Reality – coming to Reality?

Virtual Reality, a terminology many have forgotten. To some of us, we had the chance to experience Virtual Reality outside of research institutes – and it is an experience you and I will never forget and is longing for. The feeling is different, being able to walk literally and your “virtual-self” also walks. If you literally change direction, your virtual-self also changes direction. If you move your head, wave your hand, duck, lay down, your virtual-self also does the same action as you do in your real-world-self. A very unforgettable and amazing experience for us. But the technology disappeared from our view and got isolated within research centers. What we have now are online worlds, these may be 3D but certainly these are very far from being a Virtual Reality or VR World.

Now VR is taking a come-back…

Follow up:

The International Association of Virtual Reality Technologies or IAVRT released a Press Release – Next Generation Network Announced for Virtual Reality and Gaming Data – IAVRT Launches “The Neuronet” saying that the network, called the Neuronet, will evolve into the world’s first public network capable of meeting the data transmission requirements of emerging cinematic and immersive VR technologies. They further explained that the Neuronet will be separate and distinct from the Internet and will be used for everything from gaming to entertainment to ‘v-business’, or virtual business.

With this “online VR” world or worlds comes the need still for a network, and with a network comes the need for bandwidth, and cables and so on… We still have to rely on our ISPs (Internet Service Providers), and as we all know, there is already an issue with the Internet itself, the so-called – Net Neutrality, which to this day is still being debated. Here is IAVRT answer to that:

The massive overcapacity of fiber optic cable left over from the dot-com era makes the new network feasible with minimal investment. Much of the infrastructure and programming utilized to facilitate the Neuronet will be outsourced to telecommunications and virtual reality innovators, but a private sector monopoly on the Neuronet itself will not serve the greater good of the global community. Competing networks have the potential to destabilize evolving virtual worlds and potentially compromise consumer safety. To that end, IAVRT was formed as an international not-for-profit organization that will, through its members, govern the Neuronet, foster its growth and guard its integrity.

Granted, IAVRT successfully gain support from these corporations, we the users are left to wonder what kind and type of worlds this new technology will bring to us. If you are an anime and/or gaming fan, the first two VR worlds that will come to our mind are Serial Experiment Lain’s The Wired and .hack’s The World (pronunced as: dot-hack). .hack’s The World is a Virtual Reality-Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game or VR-MMORPG, it is a game where gamers enter a VR world and assume a new character or person appropriate for the game setting or become one’s dream-self. It is similar to what we have today like Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, Ultima Online, and many more. Imagine, instead of playing your WoW character in third-person or first-person perspective, you are playing and viewing the in-game world of WoW as if you really are inside the game – as literal as it gets. There are already technologies appearing today that claims that any game will become a VR if you use their technologies, but it is only the tip, because these technologies still rely on another controller to direct your character’s actions, unlike .hack where their characters’ actions are directly being controlled by the player through their brain.

Then let’s go a little further, can we start to live in VR worlds and forget our real-selves, or to be more specific non-VR-selves? By that time, we surely have dropped using the terms “real-life” and “real-world” in favor of “non-VR”, VR worlds after all clearly overlaps with the non-VR, we won’t be able to differentiate between the two. This is Serial Experiment Lain’s The Wired is all about. It is an anime that shows us the possibility of completely leaving our non-VR-selves and move to the VR-world and live there, and be part of the VR-community. New possibilities emerges from this, one is the instant pooling of different minds – we humans achieve more greater heights if we come together and share our personal knowledges, theories and dreams.

Okay, let’s go back to the present time. If Neuronet will be a new network (on-top of the Internet[work]), then we also need VR addresses. IAVRT will provide registration for the Neuronet domain names to support the creation of the second generation, consumer-accessible Neuronet and forster the advancement/commercialization of VR technologies. I want this to be a success, I want to experience this in its full glory before my life here on Earth ends. And it seems that wish of mine may have a chance of happening – The first generation Neuronet network is slated to go live in 2007 through the interconnection of regional VR and gaming R&D consortiums being formed under the IAVRT umbrella in metro markets worldwide. Consumer-accessible applications will follow as early as 2009.

With that I will leave to you these excerpts from IAVRT:

The purpose of the Neurornet will be to facilitate cinematic and immersive virtual reality experiences across distances. These will include almost every type of experience imaginable with some of the most obvious being real-time video chat, video streaming, virtual reality travel, history, adventure, gaming, entertainment, sports, hobbies, business, education, medicine and training to name just a few.

The Neuronet will function similarly to the Internet in its ability connect users in different locations, but instead of the user interface mechanisms associated with the Internet, it will use Virtual reality (VR) technologies to facilitate cinematic and immersive virtual reality experiences for end-users.

Though similar to the Internet in its ability to connect individuals in different locations, the architecture of the Neuronet will be distinctly different. The entire Neuronet will be hosted on one central server system and then be mirrored to Neuronet metro servers in different geographic locations around the globe. This architecture is required to enable the localized transmission speeds required to facilitate immersive and cinematic virtual reality. The Neuronet will also support real-time peer-to-peer VR and gaming applications.

A special language or series of languages will be developed for transmitting VR data over the Neuronet, which may be referred to as Virtual Reality Over Neuronet Protocol (VRONP). In order to avoid data corruption and security risks, VRONP data will not be transferred over the Internet.

Many of IAVRT’s organizational and governance practices will be modeled after the Internet’s governing body, ICANN. It may be noted however, there is no association between ICANN and IAVRT, nor will the Internet and Neuronet converge at any point.

IAVRT Official website
The Neuronet
Neuronet Domain Names

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