Linden Lab has announced it will integrate voice capabilities throughout Second Life, in a bid to enhance the way the game's residents communicate with each another.
An update to the online world will use spatial awareness technology, meaning the volume of characters' voices alters depending on how close they are to each other and which direction they are standing. This 3D proximity-based technology, in which the characters become increasingly animated when speaking at a greater volume, in intended to make the experience more realistic.
Currently, residents of Second Life can only communicate through text chat or by using third-party voice software. With 3D Voice all players of the game need is a microphone to enable them to speak with others on in voice-enabled areas.
The feature will be available for free to residents and land owners during the beta-testing phase. After this, mainland property owners and land owners already paying a monthly fee will be able to use it.
Educators will find the new feature particularly useful as a tool for learning. Terry Beaubois, professor of architecture at Montana State University, is looking forward to exploring the voice capability as it will benefit his students, enabling them to "communicate freely".
Joe Miller, vice president of platform and technology development at Linden Lab, believes that voice is a transformative technology that will change the way Residents in the game communicate and will "lend more immediacy and dynamism to their intention with others".