Second Life Voice Beta

Linden Labs announced the availability of voice chat in certain areas of the beta grid. I've been playing around with this for the past several days. I never had occasion to actually use the Second Life beta grid previous to this. I have been a First Look user, but never gone off the main grid.

I have several initial impressions of the voice capabilities of Second Life. First is that, over all, it's quite impressive. The audio panning and stereoscopic effects really do work surprisingly well. Push to talk should be enabled by default, however.

I'm not generally a fan of push to talk, but in this case it's almost a requirement. Although the beta program tells you that you have to use a headset, in practice there is no way for them to regulate that. So there are newbies showing up with voice blasting out of their speakers and then feeding back into the mic creating quite an annoying echo. It's a simple fix to set "push to talk" to enabled, but it should be the default before they roll this into the main client.

Additionally, in the current beta there is no IM or private conference voice capability. It's just public proximity based. This is fine for beta testing, but I think when this goes live on the main grid the real use case will be in small group conferences or voice IMs.

While their technology does mix multiple voices together fairly well, it still sounds better when one person talks at a time - CB radio style.

As far as applications of the voice technology - I've already heard several people mention karaoke bars. Unfortunately. I also think this could be useful for foreign language instruction in Second Life. The voice piece will help with learning and practicing a more natural accent.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and speculations on the possible use cases for voice in Second Life.

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