Does Linden Research Patent Point to the Future of Second Life?

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If you haven’t visited the web site for Second Life, or heard about it, you’ve missed one of the more interesting things happening on the web these days. As their What is Second Life page states:

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 3,744,619 people from around the globe.

There are a number of real world businesses that have set up virtual world versions of their businesses in Second Life, and there are marketers who offer services helping businesses develop a presence in Second Life.

While searching through internet related patent applications this weekend, I came across a couple of recent patent applications involving virtual worlds, and they made me wonder what patent filings the developers of Second Life had made. The company behind Second Life is Linden Lab.

One patent application assigned to them describes some technical aspects of splitting up a similation amongst different servers, but really doesn’t provide a lot of insight into the workings of Second Life: Distributed simulation. The listed inventors include founder and CEO Philip E. Rosedale, Chief Technology Officer Cory R. Ondrejka, and Andrew L. Meadows.

I also found a granted patent, which I find really interesting. It was originally filed in 2000, but wasn’t granted until October, 2006:

Input and feedback system
Invented by Philip Rosedale
Assigned to Linden Research, Inc.
US Patent 7,117,136
Granted October 3, 2006
Filed: August 18, 2000


An input and feedback system for use with simulator devices immobilizes a portion of the user’s body using a securement device which holds the immobilized portion in a fixed position.

Pressure sensors are disposed upon the securement device to detect the force resulting from any attempted motion of the immobilized body part. Signals describing these forces are sent to a processing unit which applies this information to a simulated environment and provides sensory feedback to the user of the this simulated environment.

Feedback is provided via vibrating elements which provide a sensation to the user corresponding to the motion of the user’s muscles which occur in the simulated environment. Feedback is also provided via a screen which is disposed in front of the head of the user.

Such immobilizing devices may be used to allow input and feedback based on the motion of various parts of the user’s body, such as the head, arms, legs, and torso.

Will the simulations of Second Life someday evolve into something even more realistic? Hard to tell.

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9 thoughts on “Does Linden Research Patent Point to the Future of Second Life?”

  1. Nice grab on the patent front! Given the success of SL and its exponential growth, their focus must be on keeping their installed base happy. That Linden Labs has a patent in the area of new human-computer interfaces is very exciting, though, since it offers a peek into one of their longer-term growth prospects.

    It should come as no surprise that a monitor-mouse-keyboard interface is severly limiting for experiencing a 3D world and inhabiting an avatar. There are several technologies on the immediate horizon that provide partial or full-body interactivity.

  2. Thanks, David.

    While I probably should have expected to see something like that patent, it was still a surprise. I imagine that adding an interface like that isn’t a priority right now, but I’d like to see it.

  3. Thanks, Ric.

    Definitely a typo there, as could be seen in the date granted under the link to the patent. I’ve changed it, so that I don’t confuse anyone.

  4. Pingback: Mobil Avenue » Blog Archive » Meetings of Great Minds
  5. Second Life continues to progress. I have a Second Life Blog and am a real enthusiast of virtual worlds and their potential in education, creativity and business.

    What a shame the mainstream tabloid newspapers see fit to focus on the negative elements, thus leaving relatively undiscovered, the true value of such platforms.

  6. Hi Josue,

    Thanks. It’s not a surprise that Second Life meets resistence from the main stream media. Many print publications are struggling to find ways to fit into a medium that values digital content in business models and interaction on the Web.

  7. Very true, Bill. It’s for that reason that these publications and establishments would benefit from hiring writers from within the virtual worlds themselves – thus giving them a deeper insight into the platform.

  8. Hi Josue,

    It would make sense for main stream publications to use the services of someone who is a subject matter expert on the topic. I remember reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer not long after it was published, and imagining what the Web would be like, and all the possibilities it would offer. Virtual worlds like Second Life capture a lot of that magic. It would be great to hear more about some of the positive elements from time to time.

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