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Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg Lifts the Curtain on Sansar Virtual Reality World

Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg gave the audience the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. Wednesday a first demo of his company’s upcoming Sansar virtual world.

The demo showed participants meet in a virtual version of the actual conference, and then beam themselves to other places within Sansar, including a holodeck-like cinema for 360-degree videos and a landscape with ruins that looked like straight out of “Outlander.”

Altberg then showed off how users can decorate their own living spaces within Sansar with easy editing tools, making it possible to move around virtual furniture with the Oculus Touch controller.

Sansar will be available for both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well as via a desktop app that will make it possible to navigate through virtual worlds without a VR headset. It is making use of input controllers for both Rift and Vive, making it possible to pick up virtual objects, and for example toss balls back and forth.

Linden Lab is best known as the creator of Second Life, a virtual world that has been operational since 2003. Altberg said Wednesday that Sansar is taking some aspects from Second Life, including the ability for consumers to buy virtual objects. “In Second Life, there is $0.5 billion GDP,” he explained.

However, Sansar will also be different from Second Life in many aspects, and Altberg told Variety this week that the company actually has been careful about managing assumptions to make sure that users don’t try to recreate Second Life. One example: Sansar’s early beta testers have not just been Second Life creators, but also some that don’t have any experience with Second Life at all, and are able to start with a clean slate.

Linden Lab opened up Sansar to a small group of creators in August. More than 10,000 creators had signed up for access. The company is looking to gradually add more over the coming months, with the goal of making Sansar available to consumers in the first quarter of 2017.

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