Various groups are working on ways to turn the Internet into a full 3D virtual world. The Guardian (UK based) has just written about one effort. One group, which the Guardian article by Victor Keegan fails to name – cause it has no name, is creating software that uses public information to make a 3D model of the entire planet in which your avatar can walk. (For a better write up than the Guardian see the same Victor Keegan’s blog: Building the planet – on a tight budget) You can see an example of it in action on YouTube video below.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tVcAuNpgk8]
The video shows an avatar (Victor) walking around new York City.
The group has a plan to turn their project into a sort of Wikipedia style Google Earth cross bred with a Second Life style virtual world.
I imagine the project as having the possibility to compete with Google AdWords, Google’s main cash cow. I would also guess that many people will develop spin off businesses from the project. Since the team can’t afford to do more than add and process the public information (meaning create the outside shell of buildings) and since there is no easily accessible data for a computer system to construct the building interiors from, the wiki idea is to allow people to construct that part. So getting a store or auto dealership set up is something most businesses will need help doing.
Soon this should go into public testing. As yet the project does not have an official name. But they have devised a good business model which seems to have aspects of Google AdWords, Second Life commerce and virtual real estate.