Monday, October 29, 2007

Latency in a virtual stadium

Just to put a little perspective on my previous post on latency: Sound travels about 350 m/s. If the network round-trip time between the US and Australia is 200ms, then that's equivalent to a physical separation of about 35m, at least as far as sound is concerned. Being in a global virtual crowd is like being in a largish theater or small arena.

That's really not going to be a problem most of the time. The interesting thing to me is that there's a hard limit that is (just) humanly perceptible. For example, if you're assembling a virtual crowd, you'll hear the reactions from across the globe perceptibly later than those from your neighbors. The only way to even this out is to slow everybody down, which would have its own effects on the feedback loop.

Or consider a virtual marching band without any visual cues, which is effectively what you have if it takes just as long to see the baton as to hear the drum. Not impossible, but a bit more challenging.

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