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Multiverse shows off its virtual Times Square

Demo to showcase the platform developer's technology is an impressive mix of media, even if it's not clear how it can be implemented.

Multiverse's new virtual Times Square demo showcases the company's latest technology, including the ability to pipe YouTube videos directly into a virtual world. Multiverse Network

I spent part of Friday afternoon in New York's Times Square, but something wasn't quite right.

On the one hand, things looked very realistic, with the many digital video screens blaring high-fidelity but inane content out at me. On the other, there was only one person in evidence.

So, OK, this wasn't really Times Square. Rather, it was a new technology demo from Multiverse Network, a leading virtual-world platform developer.

In general, Multiverse just makes its platform available to any development team that wants to use it to create a new virtual world. But in this case, the company created the Times Square demo itself as a way to showcase some of its newest innovations.

In point of fact, the demo is pretty impressive, as evidenced by the video (click here for Windows Media format) Multiverse put up on its site.

Even though there's only one avatar in the demo, Multiverse's technology can support up to 1,000 on a single server. Multiverse Network

A couple of things make this special.

First, if you're familiar with virtual worlds like Second Life, this takes the graphics to another level of realism, and that's a nice thing. Second, even though there's only one avatar in the demo, it would be possible using its technology, Multiverse says, to populate the Times Square scene--or any using their platform--with up to 1,000 avatars, all off a single server.

But there are some other little bits of magic going on here.

One is that all the video boards in the virtual Times Square are running different pieces of content, including at least a couple piping in video directly, and seamlessly, from YouTube. That's not something I think we've seen before using any other platform.

Another nice element is what Multiverse calls its high-dynamic range lighting system, which can display the best possible lighting effects on a high-end gamer machine or lesser effects on a lower-end machine. The system determines the CPU and GPU power and adjusts the effects accordingly.

All in all, this is just a demo, and certainly not anything regular users can yet play around with. But to Multiverse, it's indicative of what's possible with its platform and therefore what any virtual-world developer using that platform can do with it.

Of course, I'm not really that big a fan of Times Square anyway. Now, if we can adjust that demo so I can bop over to Eighth Avenue and catch a bus from Port Authority to New Jersey, that would be impressive.