First virtual worlds search engine

What’s being claimed as the first search engine designed specifically for interrogating virtual environments has been launched by the D-Lab team at the University of Teesside’s Institute of Digital Innovation.

Meta-Mole is a dedicated searchable online resource aimed at facilitation multi-disciplinary information exchange between software developers working in the expanding virtual world market.

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit and interact via avatars. Trade media company Virtual Worlds Management claims more than $161m was invested in 16 virtual worlds-related companies during Q2/2008.

Meta-Mole enables virtual world developers to register the capabilities of their sites based on a common set of technological criteria. Information sets supported include images and videos, plus dynamic matrices for comparative analysis of environment functionality.

D-Lab believes that the requirement for Meta-Mole is largely predicated on awareness of the growing commercial potential to add virtual world functionality to conventional web presences.

“People think virtual worlds are all about Second Life, but with the rise of 3D web browsers, the virtual experience will extend far beyond what we are seeing now,” says D-Lab metaverse architect Dan Riley. “Any brand entity with a significant Internet presence will be adding a virtual world dimension to their online offering within five-to-ten years.”

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