While the Nonprofit Commons is a Second Life-based community, we are always interested in what is happening in the larger virtual world space, including OpenSim worlds and web-based worlds. One of the most exciting developments is the new Kitely virtual world on-demand service.
I spent a few minutes today checking out the new “Kitely” that recently launched in public beta. For nonprofits and educators, Kitely presents a new option for holding virtual events for up to 100 avatars at a fraction of the cost it would take rent similar space in Second Life.
Here are some of the principal features:
- Inexpensive: Kitely charges based on a very reasonable $0.20 per user per hour. So a 100 person event that lasted an hour would cost just $20. A similar event in Second Life might easily cost you hundreds of dollars to rent. There is no setup fee, and a very modest storage fee.
- Web to World: You can provide a URL to your world, that will allow most users to access it within a few minutes.
- Rapid Sim Creation: Developers can import entire sims with all of their assets using the OAR archive function, which is widely used in OpenSim worlds already. Free and inexpensive OAR files are also available on the web for a non-expert user to import for example an entire Mayan village or a science lab. There is also a pre-made conference facility or you can start with a blank slate.
- FaceBook Identity Verification: Avatars are linked to actual Facebook accounts, which makes account creation just a matter of allowing the Kitely website to access your Facebook credentials. Your users can access your world using their existing Facebook account, rather than go through a new account creation process. (NOTE: there is currently an issue with Mac users where their username and password are not being passed correctly to the SL viewer.)
- Cloud-based Service: Kitely makes use of Amazon’s cloud-computing server facilities, meaning that your world should load very fast, and then get archived when it is not in use.
The typical video and audio streaming and embedded media functions seem to work identical to Second Life and OpenSim.
What Kitely currently lacks:
- Voice: There is no facility for bringing in voice chat or VOIP, but the developers are giving this a high priority.
- Commerce: There is no virtual currency enabled yet.
- Hypergridding: Avatars can not teleport to your world from other OpenSim worlds at this point.
So who should consider Kitely? For organizers of events, under 100 participants, Kitely might serve your purposes quite well. It is inexpensive, quick and easy to setup, and enables your audience to quickly get into your world without too much fuss. I.e. if you wanted to invite virtual participants to your real world conference, Kitely might make it easier for your attendees who don’t mind connecting through their Facebook accounts. Or a regular college course conducted virtually might work well in Kitely.
But for ongoing exhibits and spaces that you will want to be around for months at a time this might not be the best solution. And if you want to involve the larger ecosphere of virtual users, creators, and professionals, a more popular platform like Second Life might be a better bet. Finally, if you have privacy and security concerns about you or your users sharing their Facebook identity with this service, Kitely probably won’t work for you.
But don’t take my word for it. Head to Kitely.com and create your own world yourself.
Written by: rikomatic