The knock on popular virtual world Second Life has been that it's a little slow, and not entirely easy to use. Sure, it has roughly 13 million registered citizens, but only a few hundred thousand are actual devotees who spend a fair amount of time in the alternate universe.
Part of the reason Second Life hasn't gotten to that level yet, says Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab founder and former chief executive, can be attributed to the popularity of laptops, most of which don't have the kind of 3-D graphics chops to properly render his virtual universe. But Rosedale believes that improvements in computers and connection speeds in the next decade should produce a boom in the game's popularity. If Rosedale is correct and Second Life is merely ahead of its time, it's unclear whether the promise of future improvement will be enough to keep the virtual world afloat in the present.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.