Project EchoVoice – Social Impact Tech for Good
Virtual Worlds are the heart of the free Metaverse.
People are the soul of the free Metaverse.
Using free online voice communications in the Metaverse has helped lift people up for over 15 years. The OpenSimulator Virtual World community alone has an estimated 16,000 unique users. Most currently use free voice communication from Vivox and most are women, seniors, students, and the disabled living in poverty or on fixed incomes.
The problem we want to solve…
Free voice communication for all Operating Systems from Vivox is going away.
The whole of the Metaverse will be diminished without a replacement system for users of all Operating Systems in OpenSimulator Virtual Worlds.
The Metaverse is growing and so is the need.
Who’s most affected…
Many in the free Metaverse are
- living in isolation;
- challenged with disabilities;
- battling loneliness; or
- struggling financially.
- eager to learn;
- strive to educate;
- long to socialize; or
- endeavor to participate in the virtual economy.
The impact if we lose voice…
Voice communication makes the Metaverse sound real and empowers those who need it.
- We need free voice in the Metaverse to overcome isolation and loneliness.
- We need free voice in the Metaverse to empower the mobility challenged.
- We need free voice in the Metaverse to empower the visually impaired.
- We need free voice in the Metaverse to empower those with cognitive issues.
- We need free voice in the Metaverse to empower teachers.
- We need free voice in the Metaverse to help students learn to speak effectively.
- Free voice makes the Metaverse work for learning.
- We learn more from voice than from text alone.
- Voice helps us work on projects together.
- Voice provides immersion in the Metaverse.
- Voice communications are often needed in the virtual economy.
- The experience is not fully social without voice.
The people of the free Metaverse using OpenSimulator Virtual Worlds need a solution before we lose free voice communication capability completely.
Who we are…
My name is Lisa Laxton. I am a member of the free Metaverse community and CEO of Infinite Metaverse Alliance® (IMA) - a community focused social benefit organization. As someone who is disabled, I understand the needs of others within the Metaverse. I have a passion for helping people help themselves. Please join me on our journey along Project EchoVoice - A Social Impact Return on Investment!
The IMA team has been working on, and funding, a solution for two years. More funding is needed to get the coding done to deliver a just-in-time free voice solution to the community that is not owned by any corporation. We call it :
EchoVoice: a freeware/open-source software solution for all supported OpenSimulator server and viewer versions.
What we've done so far…
2019: The research by IMA into existing technology approaches for OpenSimulator to date is done.
Result: The technical debt is too high and too costly to update obsolete software.
2020: The engineering design for a new technology approach has been completed by Troy Schultz.
Can IMA with lead software developer Troy Schultz do it in 2021?
Organized for community social benefit in 2016, IMA successfully delivered a new free open-source viewer software project called SceneGate in 2018 that improves accessibility, reduces onboarding for educators, and enhances usability for new users. We are also involved in a new ground up open-source viewer project underway with a strategic partner supporting student interns. We continue to support creative commons projects in the free Metaverse.
We need your help getting the EchoVoice project Phase 1 over the finish line in 2021 with funding required to complete the coding in a short time frame. As of Oct 18, 2021, the average annual compensation for a Software Developer in the United States is $119,858 a year or $58 USD per hour. The average annual compensation for a Software Engineer in the United States is $134,500 a year or $65 USD per hour. We intend to take the following phased approach including administrative costs:
Phase 1 GoFundme Goal = $45,727 USD to fund 730 hours effort
Goal: Build Client/Server test version
- Development: 600 hours (Need funding)
- Development: 240 hours (Funded)
- Engineering: 80 hours (Need funding)
- Testing: 40 hours (Need funding)
- Documentation: 10 hours (Need funding)
Phase 2 GoFundme Goal = $19,723 USD to fund 320 hours effort
Goal: Build Client/Server release version.
- Development: 280 hours (Need funding)
- Engineering: 40 hours establish Public Repository and issue tracking (Need funding)
- Testing: 10 hours to coordinate community testing (Funded)
- Documentation: 10 hours to generate supporting documentation (Funded)
Phase 3 GoFundme Goal = Undetermined (effort to be determined)
Goals: Add spatial features; Add IM and Conference (Group) capabilities; Add support for other platforms; Improve Accessibility by adding Speech to Text and Text to Speech capabilities for the severely disabled.
- Development: Unknown hours (Need funding)
- Engineering: Unknown hours (Need funding)
- Testing: Unknown hours (Need funding)
- Documentation: Unknown hours (Need funding)
Social Impact #TechForGood for Phase 1 and Phase 2 is immeasurable at a one-time cost around $4 USD per person currently in the free Metaverse. Supporting research for social impact consideration is presented with links below.
Every $100 USD donated effectively sponsors code development for 25 people because grid owners can use EchoVoice free to host voice services in the Metaverse.
Most can't afford to pay for commercial voice communication. Please help IMA help people help themselves so they can face life challenges together.
On behalf of IMA and those who will benefit directly from Project EchoVoice, you have our heartfelt gratitude for any help you can offer. Thank you! Any excess funds after Phase 3 completion will be donated to support open-source Mumble and EchoVoice services code maintenance.
Supporting Social Science and Health Research:
Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions
Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. Social isolation is a lack of social connections. Social isolation can lead to loneliness in some people, while others can feel lonely without being socially isolated.
Immigrant, LGBT People Are at Higher Risk
Socially isolated individuals are more likely to be in poverty than those with larger circles of friends.
Chronic feelings of subjective social isolation have an increased mortality risk comparable to high blood pressure, lack of exercise, obesity, or smoking, and can actually accelerate the ageing process (Cacioppo and Patrick 2008; House, Landis and Umberson 1988).
Chronic social isolation is a predictor of functional decline and death among individuals older than 60 years (Perissinotto, Stijacic Cenzer, and Covinsky 2012).
There is now considerable evidence that older people, in particular, are at higher risk of social isolation, loneliness and, thus, poor mental and physical health outcomes (Erzen & Çikrikci, 2018; Golden et al., 2009; Singh & Misra, 2009).
There is evidence that both strength of social network and loneliness play a significant causal role in the onset of depression and anxiety in the population as a whole (Erzen & Çikrikci, 2018) and that older people, in particular, are at disproportionately high risk (Golden et al., 2009; Singh & Misra, 2009).
Alpass and Neville (2003) found that social isolation (i.e. having a weak social network) had an impact on depression in older men, which they attributed to factors such as the loss of a professional identity, physical mobility issues and the loss of valued relationships.
Though everyone feels lonely at some point in their lives, having a disability makes you more likely to feel lonely. Disability is a constant in many people’s lives, and living with unpredictable or invisible symptoms and feeling unsure about how to express what you’re going through are major reasons many disabled people feel lonely.
Loneliness in the U.S. has doubled over the past 50 years. A survey from health services company Cigna showed that 46% of U.S. adults sometimes or always feel socially isolated, and 54% said they feel that no one knows them well. Separate studies show feelings of loneliness increasing around the world.
Loneliness has been shown to increase the likelihood of depression and other mental illnesses. Recently, researchers observed that the immune systems of lonely people display fewer antiviral compounds and more inflammation, a condition linked to a myriad of negative health outcomes, from cancer and heart disease to dementia. A meta-analysis by researchers at Brigham Young University showed that social isolation resulted in a 50% increase in premature death.
Loneliness reduces our ability to perform tasks, limits creativity, and reduces reasoning and decision making. Social isolation reduces empathy, compassion, and perspective-taking, creating obvious obstacles to building the psychological safety essential to effective teams.
Studies show that the social brain network is plastic – that it can be developed, and can actually increase in size, with practice. Top 2 neuroscience tips for combating loneliness:
- Connect With People When You Can
- Make Time for Gossip
Findings from this pilot study to investigate the feasibility and potential health care applications of using a virtual world environment with older adults suggest that perceived usefulness of virtual worlds in terms of health, managing health, overall usefulness, and improving quality of life increased following the training program.
All completers reported that "the Metaverse" has application in health and managing disease, as well as to reduce social isolation among people who are homebound.
A loneliness epidemic is impacting countries around the world. According to the Economist and Kaiser Family Foundation, 22% of adults in the United States and 23% of adults in the UK report feeling lonely all the time or often.
Text only communications via messaging, email, and 2D social media contribute to social isolation. Voice communications help combat the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness.
Loneliness can cause:
- Cold symptoms to feel worse
- Wildly varying eating habits
- Social situations to induce more anxiety
- Increased inflammation
- Early death
For people with disabilities, people living remotely, or living in an isolated country, using social virtual worlds or virtual reality provides unique opportunities to have a social life where some may not exist. People with avatars using profiles, friends, and groups can easily find and connect with each other. Communicating in live public voice at social events or even school or work is essential to the social connection.
"According to a 2011 survey by UCLA’s Williams Institute, 96.2% of the population identifies as heterosexual, 1.8% as bisexual and 1.7% as homosexual.
Respondents to our survey however, were disproportionately higher in the latter two categories. Only 71.4% of respondents who answered the question identified as heterosexual, while 14.9% identified as bisexual, eight times that of the general population) and 7.9% as homosexual, nearly five times the percentage of the general population.
This echoes the findings above concerning the disproportionately high numbers of transgender people in virtual worlds relative to the population as a whole.
Across all categories, therefore, LGBQT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Transsexual/Transgender) participation in virtual worlds is much higher than the population average overall. As we’ve also seen from the high incidence of transgender residents, this suggests that virtual worlds may be particularly attractive to people whose gender or sexual preference falls outside of “standard” social norms.
Moreover, it may explain why people who fall within those norms are also using virtual worlds to experiment with the boundaries of their real-world genders or sexual preferences. It is also worth noting that only ten respondents chose to skip this question."
Research Summary of Virtual World Community Demographics:
- 31.3% live in rural areas
- 24.3% have at least one disability
- 59.8% are women
- (93% same gender avatar as real gender)
- 28.6% identify as non-heterosexual
- 37.3% are baby boomers or silent generation
- 42.1% are not employed, are students, or are retired
- 36.5% have incomes below the poverty line
All these numbers are much higher than in gaming or the general population. Loss of voice communications will have significant negative social, economic, and health impacts for people in virtual worlds because it will lead to more social isolation, loneliness, and poverty.
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Infinite Metaverse Alliance® is a registered U.S. Trademark.
Infinite Metaverse Alliance® is a registered U.S. Trademark.