Second Life Seeks to Capture Business from Nonprofits and Educational Institutions During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Many social VR platforms and virtual worlds are currently trying to woo business users who are unexpectedly forced to shift to support remote workers in the face of an unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

Screen capture from Second Life’s new micro-website

Today, Linden Lab’s virtual world, Second Life, announced:

We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how Second Life can help organizations, events, and conferences continue to safely and efficiently operate during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Many individuals and organizations are being affected by this unprecedented public health crisis, and we recognize that Second Life can provide an important and valuable way for people to stay in touch with their friends and co-workers amidst new social distancing protocols, mandated remote work requirements, and other precautionary measures.

One of the first things we’ve implemented to help is a reduction in pricing to a flat $99/month per region to qualified accredited nonprofit or educational institutions. Effective immediately, this limited-time price reduction is applicable to any new or added regions including renewals of existing regions.

Linden Lab has also announced that they are expanding their Second Life support, although no exact details were given in the blogpost.

As part of this new initiative, there is a new micro website and a detailed Second Life Work FAQ.

I think that this is quite a savvy move for Linden Lab to make, and the lowered sim costs might just entice a few non-profit and educational institutions to take a second look at Second Life. (I hope that they keep Sansar alive, for many of the same reasons. I now wonder what would have happened if Linden Lab had decided to keep Sansar going for just another six months or a year. A coronavirus-based boost might have kept the project going. Of course, we’ll never know for sure…)

Spinview: A Brief Introduction (Yet Another YARTVRA)

Yawn. Here we go again…

YARTVRA: Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App. 

And yet another boring, cookie-cutter corporate website where it appears the owners haven’t even bothered to swap out the lifeless, generic default clip art. And yet another platform which is only nebulously described by its company:

You can use Spinview’s social VR space to immerse your team in a real-world learning environment for effective and engaging training without them leaving their desks, let alone their city. In our environment up to 8 people can focus and communicate with each-other in real time. They can work together, train together, research, plan and more. You can create a workspace designed to encourage a culture of sharing without the cost and time taken to get people physically in the same office. With Spinview, 8 heads can easily be better than one.

Again, absolutely zero technical details of their platform, and no mention of which VR hardware is supported. Just a lot of handwaving, and a cookie-cutter contact form, complete with more uninspiring clipart and vague suggestions of possible corporate uses for the Spinview platform:

VRFocus reported in November 2018 that the company acquired Agority, another social VR platform I had never heard of before:

Spinview, a company that concentrates on VR for business use has purchased immersive social platform Agority as part of its continued expansion.

The aim of the purchase is to offer businesses a new way to communicate and collaborate, letting teams inhabit a virtual area together, even if they are miles apart.

And Spinview’s corporate blog has not been updated since October 2018 (no news of the acquisition). Since then, radio silence. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Spinview, like all the other YARTVRA I have covered on this blog, is having some trouble signing up paying customers. The list of companies who want to sell VR products supporting remote workteams is getting rather ridiculously long (you can see a list of other YARTVRA platforms in this earlier blogpost).

Let me say this again: High Fidelity has already decided that there’s not enough corporate interest in a remote workteams app to continue operations, and they are essentially shutting down as of January 15th, 2020. If a company that has raised $72.9 million in venture capital and has an actual working platform can’t make it happen, companies that can’t even bother to keep their websites up-to-date and demonstrate to their potential customers that they have any sort of deliverable product are doomed to failure.

Flowtropolis: A Brief Introduction

Flowtropolis is YARTVRA: Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App. (Yes, I am still trying to get the acronym to catch on!)

On their website, there’s lots of handwaving about the benefits of remote teamwork and various applications of virtual reality to the office, but precious little detail about any actual products. According to their website:

We are currently building the Flowtropolis platform and will soon open up for our wider community to take it for a spin during the fall of 2019. Please hold on, it´s going to be worth it!

Well, autumn has come and gone, and there’s still no concrete details on what this platform is all about. Absolutely zero information on what VR headsets it supports, for example. The company does offer a link to a form to fill out, for customers interested in what they call “co-creation opportunities”. Hmm.

It all sounds rather suspiciously like “contact us with your ideas, and we will build it for you”, as opposed to an actual deliverable. If you’re interested, you can contact Flowtropolis, but be sure to also check out my list of other YARTVRA platforms before you make any decisions.

This is still a nascent, rapidly-evolving marketplace, and High Fidelity has already decided that there’s not yet enough corporate interest for it to market a product for remote workteams. I suspect that we are at least a generation away from the more widespread use of remote workteams in VR/AR/MR/XR at most corporations. Most companies still expect their employees to commute to a central, shared office space to do their work.

Mixtive’s VR Conference: A Brief Introduction to a Social VR App for Meetings

Mixtive is a Swedish company which has partnered with Telia Company and Sony Mobile and create a 3D meeting service called, simply, VR Conference. Yep, another example of YARTVRA: Yet Another Remote Teamwork Virtual Reality App.

Here’s a few videos of the platform in action:

Note how awkward the hands on these avatars look! Using Telia VR ConferenceSony 3D Creator, and Shadow Avatars, users can create a 3D avatar that resembles them, although the results do have that creepy Uncanny Valley aspect to them (there’s no audio on these two videos):

According to their website, Mixtive’s VR Conference app supports the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets, as well as iOS and Android apps. You’ll have to contact Mixtive via their website to obtain a copy of the software to test, and to get pricing information.