Technology

Vancouver company’s multi-user animation technology could be a virtual-world game-changer

Utherverse software could have huge impact on online interactivity, say inventors

Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:01am PST

A patent issued recently to Vancouver’s Gary and Brian Shuster could change your online virtual world forever.

The inventor duo’s “multi-instance, multi-user animations platforms” development is aimed at allowing for thousands or even millions of users to exist in any given area in an animated virtual world at any one time. Current technology limits that number to a few dozen.

Online games and virtual worlds are nothing new.

Applications like Linden Lab’s Second Life and South Korean company SK Communications’ Cyworld allow users to create virtual alternate personas, or avatars, and travel through virtual alternate universes and encounter and interact with other avatars. But what most users don’t know is that there are very few other players in those virtual spaces with them at any one time.

“The way that virtual worlds work right now is you have a virtual region and it has a limit on how many avatars can be in that region,” said Brian Shuster, the founder and CEO of Utherverse (pronounced “otherverse”), a Vancouver-headquartered virtual-world software development company.

He said this is generally a technical limitation and that there are upper limits of what can be rendered, which traditionally relies on the end users’ machines.

Shuster said Utherverse has created a system that can allow for new dimensions to be spawned when the maximum number of avatars in a space is reached.

He used the example of a virtual concert that avatars can attend online.

“In each of these dimensions you can all see the concert because it goes trans-dimensionally,” Shuster said.

“But one of the unique aspects is, as a user, you can control what dimension you’re in, so you can bounce around from the dimension you’re dropped into, into any of the other dimensions. They’re really interactive in a way that previously wasn’t possible.”

He added that a major difference is that Utherverse does much of the processing that would previously been have done on users’ individual machines.

“It’s this system of breaking up a crowd into manageable bites … a size that can interact and not have their computers crash.”

He said the system would split the crowd across however many dimensions are necessary but allow users to move and communicate seamlessly between dimensions in real time.

“They’re never overpopulating a single region, but they can move between these regions and have an uninterrupted experience.”

Bill Tam, the president and CEO of the British Columbia Technology Industry Association, said there are many promising applications in 3D reality in general, and new developments in the area such as increased network speed and accessibility create the opportunity for virtual worlds to have much more of a mainstay presence.

“In the long term, I think there’s a complementary aspect of real-world and virtual-world type of marketing and information vehicles, and assuming this is the space Utherverse is going down, there should be plenty of applications for the tech platforms that they’ve developed.” •

Tags: internet, British Columbia Technology Industry Association, software, Bill Tam



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