Virtual world Second Life never quite turned into the Next Big Thing that its media hype promised. Its hardcore users are still there, but the excitable journalists, bands and brands have largely deserted it.
In fact, if there’s a buzz around virtual worlds nowadays, it’s more around youth-focused worlds like Habbo and Club Penguin. And you could argue that the roaring success of Facebook and Twitter are catering for hundreds of millions of people’s social needs without a 3D avatar in sight.
However, Nokia and Intel think virtual worlds could make a comeback on mobile phones. To prove it, they’ve set up a research centre in Finland, which Nokia says will focus on “making new, next-generation graphical experiences for mobile users”.
The two companies are already partners on MeeGo, their next-generation smartphone OS, and the research centre’s first projects will focus on that and other platforms. Nokia’s Conversations blog cites a virtual reality project called realXtend (pictured), which was created in the same region of Finland, as a hint at the possibilities.