Data Compression Breakthrough Could Accelerate Virtual Worlds, Mirror Worlds, Web TV and Cloud-Based Video Gaming

March 24 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

onlive_tall.jpgIt's rare that a broadly disruptive, industry shattering/accelerating technology sneaks up on you, much less everyone else all at the same time.  But according to Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat, a Gaming as a Service (GaaS) company called OnLive appears poised to launch services that will enable much more robust applications (the current focus is on video games) to be retrieved from the cloud in real-time. 

The secret?  A new form of robust digital compression that requires just one megabyte of additional software on the web client end.  

For years, decades, data compression has formed a frustrating bottleneck for the development and diffusion of not only rich video games, but also more broadly important communication technologies such as virtual worlds (Second Life, Multiverse, VastPark), mirror worlds (Google Earth, Open Street Map) and high definition streaming Web TV (You Tube HD, Hulu) - just to name a few.  A breakthrough in compresssion of this magnitutude (which Takahashi says owes its thanks to the discovery of smarter algorithms) is tantamount to throwing more broadband piping at the web and could result in 1) massive acceleration of VW, MW and WebTV adoption, 2) increases in the resolution of these Cloud-based systems. 

Iow, it's a big freaking deal.

DISRUPTIVE POTENTIAL: Stated super-compression could/will quickly put a damper on industries such as thin client web browser development, used video game sales, and non-rich virtual worlds.  It could/will quickly enbolden virtual video editing, online collaborative Photoshop, robust distance meetings/conferences/lectures, online video game sales (the main thrust of OnLive's efforts), graphically richer websites, and cloud computing efforts in general. 

Broadly speaking, such technology would go a long way in delivering powerful software to the masses (including the developing world), adding resolution to our systems models and abstractions and increasing the pace of effective communication and distance collaboration.

IMPORTANCE of SOFTWARE: This development reinforces just how important advances in software are to convergent accelerating change.  Whenever hardware hits cost and deployment boundaries (it always does, so we compulsively push it), we must then look to innovations in the available phase space (information, communication, intelligence) to pick up the baton and keep us moving forward.  New compression algorithms are one perfect example. 

Let's now see how social media and culture adjusts to the more fluid informational environment afforded by advanced compression.

The pipes may not have gotten wider, but digital Drain-O appears to be on the way.  If so, expect OnLive to make headlines as it markets its product and licenses it to other industries.

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