A Complete List of Every Social VR Space and Virtual World Platform I Have Written About on The RyanSchultz.com Blog

Virtual Universe 28 Apr 2018
A Scene from Virtual Universe

I will be keeping this list of virtual worlds, social VR apps, and metaverse platforms up-to-date as I cover both old and new products, as a sort of comprehensive index to my website.

Platforms marked with an asterisk (*) support users in VR headsets. In some cases, VR support is experimental or still in beta.

Well, I figure this is pretty much the canonical listing of social VR spaces/virtual worlds. Have I missed any? It’s like Pokémon, “gotta catch ’em all”…if you have heard of one that I haven’t covered yet, please let me know in the comments, thanks!

AW 2 11 May 2018
A Scene from Active Worlds

Chris Madsen Gives Me a Guided Tour of the Engage Social VR Platform

Yesterday, Chris Madsen, who works in business development at Immersive VR Education (the creators of the Engage social VR platform), gave me and Andrew a personal guided tour of Engage. Among other experiences, we visited the surface of Mars, and took a look at an interactive model of the Mars Curiosity rover:

Engage 3 16 July 2018.png

We also visited a talk show set:

Engage 2 16 July 2018.png

And we wrapped it up at a virtual recreation of the Neolithic henge monument at Avebury in England:

Engage 16 July 2018.png

The Curiosity experience included a look at how the rover landed on the Mars surface; it was amazing to watch the entire procedure unfold!

Chris has some pretty great stories to tell about the early days of social VR development from five years ago, so I hope to interview him this fall for my Metaverse Newscast show. Thanks to my producer Andrew to taking these pictures using the Snapshot feature in Engage!

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Kim Kardashian and Second Life

Yesterday, Kim Kardashian posted a screenshot from Second Life to her Instagram account to promote her new perfume!

Kim Kardashian.jpg

Being Kim Kardashian, the photo has already gotten 1,154,320 likes. (I wonder how many of those people even know what Second Life is.)

And that’s not the first time she’s done it, either. Wagner James Au of the blog New World Notes tells us she did the same thing on Twitter on July 11th of this year.

Oh, by the way, since we’re discussing her, never, ever, search the SL Marketplace for “Kardashian”, mmmkay? (Remember, I warned you! Do not click that link!!)

EF EVE: A Volumetric Video Platform

EF EVE allows you to use two Kinects (Microsoft’s camera and motion controller for Xbox consoles) to create a volumetric video of yourself, which you can then share with others in VR headsets or on the desktop!

How, why EF (which is short for Experimental Foundation) would use a hardware product that has been discontinued by Microsoft is a bit of mystery. But if you have a Windows 10 PC and two Kinects, you can subscribe to EF’s volumetric video camera app for $34.99 a month to create holograms of yourself or other people to share on their VR platform. You can download and install the client software for free from their website or from Steam (it works with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or on your PC desktop) to watch the volumetric videos.

I have to admit this is really cool, although of limited usefulness at the moment. Also, since the Kinect has been discontinued, this product has a limited shelf life. Here’s an example of a hologram in various VR environments:

Here’s a video that shows off EF EVE’s presentation tools:

And finally, we have a new use for VR: dance lessons!

Now, it’s not clear that this is social VR (that is, an experience you can share with other people), so I am leaving it off my list of social VR apps. But it is interesting nevertheless!

Thanks to Jurgita Kačkytė of the Virtual Reality Technology Facebook group for the tip!

EmbodyMe: A Brief Introduction

EmbodyMe 14 July 2018.png

EmbodyMe is a free social VR platform available via Steam and the Oculus store. What sets EmbodyMe apart from the competition is that it offers to create a photorealistic avatar of you, based on a single photo! Here’s an example from their website, using a photo of former U.S. president Barack Obama:

EmbodyMe Obama 14 July 2018.png

The promotional video makes it looks like a fun place to enjoy with your friends:

So, of course, armed with a recent photo of myself, I decided to give it a try!

When you start the program for the first time, it asks you to place your photos into a special folder on your desktop so it can find them. Then I had to restart the software and wait for the folder to load. And I waited, and waited, and waited… nothing happened. Even worse, I seemed to be stuck at that particular point in the setup of my avatar, and the program wouldn’t let me start the process over again! I even tried uninstalling and reinstalling the software from scratch; no dice. This was a major fail.

EmbodyMe is a really disappointing piece of software. I gave it a one-star review on the Oculus Store. Steer clear!

Neutrans: A Brief Introduction

Neuttrans.png

Neutrans is a social VR app made by a Japanese company called Synamon, available on the Oculus store:

NEUTRANS is a customizable VR shared-spaces solution with a focus on simple, intuitive controls and multiuser interactions. This app demonstrates the capabilities of the system, allowing up to 4 players to interact with each other in up to 3 rooms.

Features:

  • Grab, Enlarge/Shrink, Throw
  • Inventory System
  • Teleport-based Movement
  • Voice Chat
  • 3D Drawing & Whiteboards
  • Camera (Images saved in UserData\Snapshot)
  • YouTube & Image Viewer
  • Enlarge/Shrink Avatars
  • Customizable Wallpapers
  • Virtual Desktop & more!

Explore the possibilities that VR spaces can enable: Remote conferencing, VR storefronts & showrooms, using it as a base to develop demos on, and everything in-between.

Here’s the promotional video:

I downloaded the software and tried it out, and it has all the basic features, including a video player and a whiteboard. You can pick up and move objects using the laser pointers on each hand. You can teleport from one location to another. There’s only four default avatars to choose from, though, and they are all hideous! But overall, this is a promising start for a social VR platform. 

Their website could use a professional Japanese-to-English translator; there’s some pretty fractured English there. This is yet another social VR product to check back on in 6 to 12 months to see if anything new has developed.

Inlight Spark: A Brief Introduction

Inlight Spark is a social VR app available for free on the Oculus store:

Inlight Spark is where you can meet, chat and collaborate with people in VR. You can share screens, draw 3D sketches, and create spaces for different activities.

Working remotely has always been difficult for most of us, even with the help of instant messaging, voice & video calls. There’s always this invisible barrier that makes you feel not totally “there”.

In Spark, you can have meetings and collaborative experiences that are much more fun, and engaging than video calls. It’s the closest thing of actually being in the same space with your coworkers, but in some way even better. (working from home in pajamas, anyone?)

You’ll have an infinite canvas where you can express your ideas, and the possibility to set a time portal so you can always revisit your work.

It makes remote meetings and collaborations that much better!

Here’s the promo video:

Well, I downloaded and tried out this program, and you seem to be stuck in one spot, without the ability to move around (although you can grab objects and drag them closer to you). I found it a little awkward to use the provided tools, such as drawing and typing in space. The Snapshot tool gives you a snapshot, but as far as I could tell, it didn’t save it anywhere on my computer for later use. All in all, Inlight Spark is really not that terribly impressive.

Even worse, when you try to access the website, my Chrome web browser gives me a security warning! The website has very little information about the product, and only a couple of poorly-chosen screenshots. The press coverage section doesn’t include any links to the actual articles talking about Inlight Spark.

Overall, I’d skip this one.

Cisco Spark in VR: A Brief Introduction

Cisco Spark 14 JUly 2018.png

Cisco Spark in VR is a social VR business app currently in beta, created by Cisco, the computer networking company. According to their product announcement:

The promise of virtual reality has been a staple of science fiction – think The Matrix or the holodeck from Star Trek – an exciting yet elusive vision. While we are nowhere near having a holodeck in our homes, VR has the potential to be big. Right now, most applications focus on gaming, but that’s just a starting point. I see a possibility where VR could become a professional tool with practical applications for engineering, the travel industry, sports, education, and collaboration.

Here at Cisco, we started thinking about the possibilities for VR in the business world – and ways to integrate that with our best-in-class collaboration technology. People are using VR for rich, fully immersive, gaming experiences. And naturally, as avid gamers themselves, our Cisco Emerge team started thinking about the practical applications of VR, specifically in meetings using the Cisco Spark platform.

Cisco Spark is built around the concept of virtual spaces, where all your work lives, like messaging, files, whiteboards, etc. It is designed to allow people to work and meet together, effectively, no matter where they are. And VR headsets let you go virtually into new worlds, rooms, and spaces. You have new ways for people to connect, even though they are thousands of miles apart. Bringing these two together has the potential to create an amazing work experience.

Which is why I am excited to introduce Cisco Spark in VR, a new experiment with the potential to improve team collaboration. It is available for download today from the Oculus Store.

According to the Oculus store description of this app:

Virtual Reality offers new ways for people to be present within the same room even though they are thousands of miles apart. With certain work streams moving into VR, such as design & content creation, the Cisco Spark in VR concept is the latest example of how Cisco is experimenting with collaboration tools that work the way people work. People are now able to interact, collaborate and be together in ways never seen before. With the Cisco Spark in VR app, we are testing how people can start to collaborate in a virtual world.

**REQUIRES A CISCO SPARK ACCOUNT. SIGN UP FOR FREE AT WWW.CISCOSPARK.COM**

This app is a beta and an experiment offered by Cisco and is not considered a final product.

Well, so much for all the glowing corporate-speak. I created a Cisco Spark/WebEx account using the website, then downloaded the client software to try it out. The first time I tried to get in, it got stuck at the “Cisco Spark: Logging in” screen. I had to close the app using the Windows Task Manager, and then I tried restarting the software, to no effect. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get past that “Logging in” screen at the starting point:

Cisco Sparl Loggin In 14 July 2018.png

So, I’m afraid that I have to give Cisco Spark in VR a one-star review in the Oculus Store. It’s definitely not ready for use yet. I’ll try it again in 6 to 12 months, to see if anything has changed. I’ll leave you with a brief promotional video. It looks great—if I could only get the damn thing to run!

Also, the URL given in this YouTube video gives a 404 error—page not found.