Virtual reality is becoming more real every day. We're still light years away from the "Metaverse" virtual worlds from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash -- but several technology behemoths are taking baby steps in that direction as we speak.
"Second Life" proprietor Linden Labs and Big Blue IBM
Create just one avatar (virtual alter ego) and move from your private network to some million-user disco party, then straight into a virtual business meeting on secure servers hosted by Cisco
At the same time, Google
Call it virtual insanity if you want, but virtual reality is starting to look useful for more than just fun and games. If Stephenson is right, it could be the way to have a social life before too long. Expect the online business world to change as these pixelated face-to-face situations move into the mainstream. IBM and Google are smart to stay on the bleeding edge of this development, but keep en eye out for the next generation of virtual startups, too. The Fool will keep you posted.