Friday, December 19, 2008

Weblin clones SL Avatars to the web

Yesterday the German based webservice Weblin announced it has a new service, a 'Weblin Gate' which lets you take your Second Life avatar to the web. I've blogged Weblin last year september, when it was just launched, but haven't used it a lot since. However, that might change.

What Weblin basically does is let you create an avatar which can walk across the bottom of your webbrowser. When you're on a page with other weblin users you can see the other avatars on the webpage and interact with them. Weblin also has an option for its users to create custom avatars, but you have to be an expert in 3D graphics and animation if you want to have that avatar be able to move.

The service Weblin is offering now in Second Life is that they make a photograph of your avatar, then override your animations and 'film' your avatar making the typical Weblin moves so the service recreates your avatar outside Second Life. Dean Takahashi was among the first to blog the new service and he wrote:

What happens in virtual worlds, stays in virtual worlds. That’s the way it’s been when you create an avatar, or virtual character, in places such as Linden Labs’ Second Life.

But now Weblin, a Hamburg, Germany-based startup, has figured out a way for you to teleport your Second Life avatar to any web site. The Weblin Gate being released today lets Second Life Residents (or players) export exact replicas of their avatars and use them on any web site.

As far as writing goes, I like the first sentence of that blogpost, but regarding the facts, it would be too much credit to the folks at Weblin. We're not talking real teleportation here, or interoperability as the in-crowd calls it, it's more like scraping or cloning. As usual the ever present Virtual Worlds News nailed it down quite fast as well, writing:

This isn't true interoperability--the service takes a picture of the avatar in Second Life and maps it on to a Weblin avatar, and users don't carry their assets or identity with them--but it is an interesting form of portability and a step towards larger goals.

That would be correct, also the outlook on this remark. I didn't use Weblin much before, but now it's fun to stroll over the web with my Second Life avatar and meet other Second Life avatars out there on twitter for instance, or, As Grace puts it on her blog 'Gracified':

Early adopter Second Lifers have already adopted weblins as a means by which to chat and socialize outside of the virutal world of Second Life, whether it’s attending Malburns and Tara’s brilliant weekly show, or just catching up while the grid is down.

It works quite easily, though it got screwed with me yesterday, hence my rather late blogpost. Anyway, things start out in visiting the Weblin photobooth in Second Life, on the New Berlin sim.

Once inside you'll meet Paule, an automated avatar who'll give you instructions. You've got to pay at the cash register (1 L$, which will be refunded immediately, but necessary to get your ID) and you can get onto the photoshoot area. Make sure you've got your animations turned off. Last night when I visited the first time, the preview snapshot only showed Paule's bum and not an image of my avatar. Today, it worked out fine though.


As soon as you're up there, almost crucifixed, you'll get a link to a preview. When the preview looks about right, you'll call Paule to continue. The Weblin script overrides your avatar and starts filming the appropriate movements. When that process is finished, you'll get a link to your new avatar. Quite simple. Below a picture of my new weblin avatar walking across this blog.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meltingdots starts Weblin-based-services

Meltingdots, a Tokyo based company which specialize in virtual worlds, has supported many companies to get a Second Life presence (for example, Suruga Bank which we blogged June 2007 at MindBlizzard).

Recently they partnered with Weblin, one of the web based avatar chats, and started to offer several interesting services using Weblin. Recently they have live-streamed a video of a concert. Fans who couldn't attend the concert joined together at a website as Weblin avatars and enjoy chatting with other fans while viewing the streaming-video.

I asked Hiroshi Asaeda, CEO of Meltingdots, about Weblin and the future of Second Life.

Q:Now you're focusing in Weblin. What's the advantage of Weblin?

Easier to join, on a web browser. As we were working on Second Life, I noticed the most important part for SL wasn't 3D, but real time communication. SL still has a huge barrier to join, and I thought Weblin was one solution which could bring in more normal people (meaning computer users who are not geeks) to experience online communication. Using Weblin is just like using Skype, and is easy to download for these people. Also, Japan has a culture of not wanting to show their real identities, and prefers to use avatars. As long as people aren't desperate to use cool 3D designed offices, I thought it was good enough to communicate using a web browser.


How was the Weblin + live streaming?

The Weblin live streaming with Denpa worked out pretty well. Even though it was a daytime real club event, the people who lived away from Tokyo attended the virtual live.
Although we had some trouble in the live streaming itself, we thought there are huge opportunities to do events with Weblin.

What do you predict about Second Life or other virtual worlds in 2009?

Meltingdots still thinks Second Life to be one of the most innovative social services in the world. No one is coming even close to them, but I think they need a visionary so the users will keep believing them. What we first need to do before using Second Life is to have more people get used to using avatars as themselves. Weblin is a good way to start out, and when the users get bored with the flat interface of the 2D web, that's when the 3D virtual world business begins. We will continue SL until this day comes.


Disclosure:Meltingdots is the sponsor of Avatar Watch, which is my main blog.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Weblin - a 3D Chat overlay for your browser

Just after writing about Myrl, a new website offering a gateway to many different worlds, I read an interesting story by Vint Falken on Weblin, which tries to bring 3D to the web as well.


If I remember correctly, weblin used to advertise with ‘bringing the virtual world to the web’ … or something like that. Weblin - by Zeitgeist - ’s far from a virtual world (yet), but the concept of layering the avatar on top of normal websites is surely fascinating and well executed:


  1. You have a cute little avie that is customisable using the ‘avatar creation kit’.(takes 100×100px animated gif up to 50kb).
  2. It has a ‘monetary value’, named ‘Kala’ that is described as ‘the virtual weblin currency’. (Purchasing those is not yet possible. You receive 150 Kala (Kalas?) on start.)
  3. Weblin points. You get those as a reward for activity. Use them to unlock features & avatars.
  4. Contact list. See which of your befriended weblins are currently online.
  5. Mute button. Always handy! ;)
  6. Private chat. Duh!
  7. Integration with del.icou.us, twitter, stumble upon and even a self hosted WP install.
  8. Dating. As you’re on the same wegpage, you’ll surely have the same interests? What I love about this one is that weblin Flirt is standard disabled. So they don’t bother you with it unless you do state you’re looking for a relationship.
  9. Basic animations: jump, dance, wave and even better… decline/refuse.
Read more...

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