Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Education/TrainingInterviewVirtual Reality

Company Profile: High Fidelity – Connecting Virtual Reality to the Real World

High Fidelity is an open-source platform that allows users to create their own virtual reality experiences and share them with others.

Technology has disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives. High Fidelity’s founders feel that their virtual reality platform can do the same to our communication.

Founded by the team that created Second Life, High Fidelity is an open-source platform that allows users to create and share virtual reality experiences. If the company’s vision holds true, VR will join the ranks of the smartphone as a technology that radically altered how humans interact with one another.

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Ryan Karpf, High Fidelity’s co-founder and chief creative officer, answered a few questions about the company and its vision.

Ryan Karpf High Fidelity
Ryan Karpf, High Fidelity’s co-founder and chief creative officer

JENNA: What can you tell us about High Fidelity’s users?

RYAN: We’re in beta so the community is still growing but you can almost always find people to hang out within the public areas. We recently set, what we believe to be, the world record for 3D avatars in one virtual place (423+).

While the majority of users are in North America and Europe, we have users from all over the globe. The day we hit a concurrency record we had users logging in from 45 different countries at the same time. High Fidelity’s platform doesn’t collect demographic data.

JENNA: Is there a specific market or audience segment you are looking to target?

RYAN: We foresee that virtual reality will grow to Internet scale, reaching more than a billion people. Our software is open-source and distributed so that anyone—teachers, students, creators, business owners—can build and share VR experiences.

JENNA: Do you see High Fidelity picking up where Second Life left off, or what’s the relationship between the two?

We’re the only VR platform out there that can support hundreds of users in the same virtual space at the same time.
RYAN:There’s no relationship between Second Life and High Fidelity. They’re two separate companies. Second Life is still going strong today, which is wonderful to see. Certainly, there are learnings from Second Life that we applied when we started High Fidelity. We’re building an Internet-scale technology, and to do that, we knew we had to be open-source. We’re the only VR platform out there that can support hundreds of users in the same virtual space at the same time. Further, High Fidelity is fully-immersive VR that allows for real, human interaction due to our low-latency and full spatial audio. One other key difference is that users can host their own VR content, so they have complete control over their creations.

High Fidelity Rust Dancing
High Fidelity – Rust: A VR Dance Club

JENNA: Are there other types of events you would like to add moving forward? Do the ideas for events come from the company or the community?

RYAN: Ideas for events come from both our community of users and from an internal team here at High Fidelity. Users are allowed to submit and host their own events to the community calendar. We’ve seen a variety of user-generated events, such as DJ’s playing in virtual night clubs, live music hosted in a user’s virtual space, metaverse tours exploring virtual places and even workshops where users teach each other how to build things in High Fidelity. There are also users that are using the platform to film TV shows and make films.

We foresee that virtual reality will grow to Internet scale, reaching more than a billion people.

Right now we’re hiring a part-time WWII educator to lead tours for a new VR project. In terms of events, we’re hoping to add social experiences that draw bigger and bigger crowds.

JENNA: How will virtual reality disrupt human communication?

RYAN: VR is the first technology that can actually collapse distance. The first-person perspective and ability to use your own voice and move your body allows you to talk to your friend face-to-face—as if he’s standing right in front of you.

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This kind of social intimacy will have a huge impact on education, to name just one example. Students will learn in virtual classrooms alongside kids from all over the world. Subject experts from every field and culture can come in and present a lesson. That’s actually already happening in High Fidelity.

 

Jenna Spinelle
the authorJenna Spinelle
Jenna Spinelle is a freelance journalist based in Pennsylvania. She loves learning about new ideas and new technologies and sharing that information with others. She holds a degree in journalism from Penn State University, and currently teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. When she's not writing or teaching, you can find her hosting and producing the Democracy Works podcast.