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New 'Second Life' viewer adopted by CBS' 'CSI'

The hit show will be letting its fans enter Second Life through a new custom viewer from The Electric Sheep Company.

SAN JOSE, Calif.--The Virtual World conference got off to a quick start this morning when The Electric Sheep Company, a leading developer of corporate projects in Second Life, announced that it has released a new viewer for the popular digital 3D social environment.

The idea behind the new technology, which is called OnRez, is that it would allow Second Life residents to use the virtual world through a Web browser-like system. It would also make it easy to buy all kinds of in-world products through the OnRez shopping system, which has been around for some time.

One thing that makes this announcement noteworthy is that CBS' hit show CSI will be using the new viewer to get its fans into Second Life as part of what it is calling the "CSI: NY Virtual Experience." This will be a CSI-branded Second Life mystery in which fans can pursue a fictional killer throughout the virtual world. Fans of the show will be given the OnRez viewer as their initial SL experience.

This move is interesting because it is the first high-profile new SL viewer to come along since the virtual world's publisher, Linden Lab, announced that it would allow the SL development community to open-source the viewer.

And that's sure to be one of the most important steps in the future of SL, since its default viewer is notoriously hard to use.

In the meantime, many new SL developments have taken advantage of technology that allows them to give their own users a custom entry into the virtual world. That is a change from earlier days when all Second Life users had to enter through the standard portal. Now, there are many different branded ways to do so.

The announcement was made Wednesday in conjunction with the keynote speech at the conference here by Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the CSI series.