Today Kira Cafe hosted a presentation by Nicole Yankelovich from Sun Microsystems about Wonderland, an environment for creating virtual worlds. Wonderland is quite different than Second Life in a number of respects. So I will briefly summarize my in world notes.
The handsome nautilus to the left is Joshua Linden by the way.
Wonderland is free and developers can make either open source or proprietary applications. One can create data driven worlds or programmatic worlds. Also it has modules that allow you to create just bits of functionality e.g. an audio recorder or a microphone. In fact a big push for her group in Sun is in audio for virtual conferencing. For example, one can dial up or down bandwidth from telephone quality to CD quality for internal meetings. Thus one can get a really immersive experience
Suns' vision is different than Second Life since rather than one big world, Wonderland is decentralized and the idea is to have the possibility of a federation of worlds.
As for how big a world can wonderland make, version 0.4 could only support 20 users and scalability is an issue. Her group is aiming for worlds with several hundred avatars.
Right now they are in the middle of doing their fourth developer release 0.5 version. This involves a complete rebuild with better avatars and graphics.
Sun is very much interested in the education market, and its use for data visualization and teaching. There is also a wireless sensor platform (this is way cool) for bringing real world data into a Wonderland World for processing or visualization. Sounds like Wonderland has a lot of potential given that it is JAVA based and open source. Perhaps learning system providers such as Blackboard and Angel Learning Systems should check this out.
The Wonderland group is not directly involved in interoperability issues between virtual worlds but perhaps one of their community will pick this up.
Makes me wish I knew JAVA!
By the way Friday, Simone will be at Intel's Science Sim for a visit and blogging session.