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Linden Lab To Begin Beta-Testing Voice In Second Life Next Week

The service is expected to formally launch in the second quarter, with features designed to help preserve the illusion that Second Life is a three-dimensional place.

Linden Lab plans next week to launch limited beta tests of voice chat in its Second Life virtual world.

Second Life users, who are known as "residents," currently rely on text-based chat and instant messaging for communication.

The voice chat will be designed to simulate real-life speaking, with voices getting fainter as the speakers' avatars get more distant. Residents will be able to perceive the direction that voices are coming from. Avatars will get more animated as the speakers' voices get louder.

Linden Lab expects voice to be particularly useful for academic institutions holding lectures in Second Life, corporations using it for training, and friends just chatting with each other.

The limited beta program will be used on a test grid for 1,000 users. Formal launch will be in the second quarter.

Linden Lab plans to enable voice throughout Second Life. Users will need to have a headset connected to their PC, and will be able to speak to each other on voice-enabled areas of Second Life as soon as they log in.

Linden Lab will allow voice to be switched off on privately owned areas of Second Life.

Linden Lab is providing the voice capabilities in partnership with Vivox.

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