Posted by: Peter Quirk | May 1, 2008

Communicating with colleagues via voice chat

This will be a short post because there’s not much to say yet about voice chat between in-world and out-world parties except for the Vodafone InsideOut service discussed in the previous post.

Creative Commons License

Little girl talking through a large speaking tube

There is good news on the OpenSim front. Dr. Scofield, an IBM researcher in Zurich, announced that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the integration of OpenSim with the popular Asterisk open source PBX. I would predict that a number of the public OpenSim grids will race to offer this service as a differentiator.

What then of Linden Lab? If I were they, I’d join the movement and take advantage of the serendipitous build-out of POPs (point of presence) all over the globe to position Second Life against Skype and VoIP networks like Imagine being able to place a call to someone anywhere in the world by taking advantage of some open source infrastructure that bridges into the POTS network. They could even offer a revenue-sharing model for those that offer the bridges.

There are many issues to be addressed before this could become a reality. I can think of a few, and I’m sure you can too. Feel free to add your thoughts by adding a comment.

  • issuing phone numbers for all avatars
  • issues of anonymity versus publicly listed phone numbers, both in directories and callerID
  • jurisdiction – this is global, so your state or national regulator will have a hard time dealing with it and taxing it
  • when I call from the Second Life grid, hosted in San Francisco or Texas, but I live in Brazil, whose laws do I operate under?
  • 911 and location-awareness. Is 911 required? Do location-awareness services provide my physical address (using my IP address) and my virtual location?
  • do existing laws regarding telephone crimes and wiretapping apply to a virtual phone in a virtual world communicating with a physical phone?
  • how do you protect against VoIP spoofing when the infrastructure is distributed, open sourced, and unregulated?
  • how do you support end-to-end encryption?
  • Can you support strong encryption when one or both of the parties may be in a country that is subject to export restrictions on encryption technology? How do you know which country an avatar is in, especially if its puppeteer is using the Vollee service on a cellphone while flying across Asia?


  1. […] aspect of Second Life needs some serious work to bring it out of its walled garden. As I’ve commented before, mapping Second Life avatars to phone numbers, corporate email addresses, distribution […]

  2. […] has previously been demonstrated by Vodafone and separately by NEC. Even the OpenSim community has demonstrated integration with the Asterisk PBX. The third element of the broader collaboration vision is the […]

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