Watch out, Second Life.
The University of California at San Diego announced today the creation of a new research center aimed at creating the “next generation” of virtual worlds, which designers hope will be more visually rich and have more features than Second Life and other popular online environments.
The center will use a new hybrid-computing platform developed by IBM. Sheldon Brown, a professor of visual arts at the university who is also the director of the new center, said artists working with simulations have been limited by the computing technologies available. The new IBM platform, Mr. Brown said, offers an increased level of flexibility and power that will give artists more freedom.
Among the center’s first projects will be the development of a virtual world based on Scalable City, a museum installation created by Mr. Brown. The center will also work on digital cinema experiments that use virtual worlds as a “set,” Mr. Brown said.
In the coming months the IBM platform, which is based on the company’s “System z” mainframes, will be shared with other institutions so they can develop applications in fields like medical imaging, said Elmer Corbin, IBM’s director of systems development and university alliances. —David Shieh