A senior Linden Lab executive has indicated that Second Life's client software is being developed to take advantage of more powerful computers, but did not rule out future efforts involving low-end systems.
Ginsu Yoon, Linden Lab's VP of business affairs, told The Industry Standard in an interview last week that the "core part" of the Second Life experience were best shown on higher-end computing platforms.
"I know that there's a lot of theory in the industry that what you really ought to be focusing on is the light-weight experiences, Web-inventable experiences, you can run it on any machine, you can run it on mobile devices, or wi-fi networks," Yoon said. However, he said that virtual worlds was headed toward a richer experience requiring more powerful computers. "If you don't show the capabilities that are possible on the high end, I think that you don't really get an opportunity to develop toward where the world is going," he explained.
Yoon was responding to a question of whether Linden Lab was considering low-powered laptop computers called netbooks as platform for Second Life. Yoon acknowledged the increasing market share of laptops, and said that the rise of laptops -- and wireless networks -- had slowed Second Life's adoption. Users with less-powerful laptops and slower wireless connections often report difficulties using Second Life.
"There is a continued movement toward mobility," Yoon said. "And I think netbooks are a much smaller factor than, for example, iPhones, and more powerful handheld devices. ... Those things are certainly things that we are interested in the future. But it's not sort of the core of where we think we develop toward the leading edge."
Yoon dismissed the idea of the Second Life client being dropped in favor of browser-based access. "I know that the common refrain in the industry is 'Oh, it's got to be in a browser, everything has got to be in a browser,' he said. "But there are plenty of experiences that are in a browser, that are supposed to be in a 3D world, and that doesn't do it."
However, Yoon expressed interest in new types of input devices. "your interaction with the computing environment is not always going to be about a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse," he said. "You will have more natural interactions, in terms of gestural interface and the kinds of things that lend themselves very well to interacting in a 3d environment." Yoon predicted "Minority Report-type interfaces" using 3D cameras to translate the movements of users' hands in a virtual world, as well as brainwave devices to control avatars' movements in-world.