Google launches virtual world

Google has launched an online virtual world in the US called Lively. It will allows consumers to create a virtual room that can be embedded into a blog or website.

Lively, which was unveiled on the Google blog, can also be accessed from Facebook and MySpace and users will be able to stream their own content from the their rooms.

Users can create the room’s environment and design furniture and their own avatar, which can interact with other characters through text chat and animated actions.

Google says that advertisers could use Lively rooms as an extension of their websites to allow consumers to engage “more deeply with the brand”.

The search engine company hopes to make it possible for advertisers to “create a full branded experience in Lively”. It adds: “We are working hard so that anybody can create custom content, but are still testing the feature.”

Lively began as Google engineering manager Niniane Wang’s “20% project” and is being released as part of Google Labs, which is a new initiative that allows users and developers to test things and send feedback. Google offers its engineers 20% of their time to work on projects that they are interested in.

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