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Is Google testing a Second Life style virtual world?

Google ASU
Students at Arizona State University are being offered a chance to test a new product that will be launched later this year by an unnamed major company. Although the beta is available only to ASU students, and participants have to sign a nondisclosure statement to sign up, one student snapped a couple of images of the signup page.

So here's what we know. The questionnaire asks about social sites like Facebook, Friendster, and MySpace. There are also hints the project involves 3D modeling and video games. And one question is whether users have a Gmail account and/or would be willing to sign up for one, which is leading to speculation that this is a Google project.

What kind of Google project is kind of up in the air, but since we love some good speculation, we're willing to go with the theory that Google plans to launch some type of Second Life competitor. While Second Life and other virtual worlds are merely virtual, Google already has access to boatloads of satellite imagery which is used in Google Maps and Google Earth. Imagine a social network where you could walk an avatar down the street to your friend's house to chat, or wander into a store in Japan to check out its inventory and buy virtual or real life goods.

Of course, this is all just speculation. It's possible the project has nothing to do with Google or virtual worlds at all.

Tags: arizona-state-university, asu, second-life, virtual-worlds