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Real or Not?

9:00 AM -- Here's a fun one: a virtual reality company that some folks think is more "virtual" than "reality."

The International Association of Virtual Reality Technologies (IAVRT) came out during the holidays proclaiming the Neuronet, a network built for the needs of virtual reality and, uh, "neurosites." The FAQ makes it clear that in addition to the more standard Second Life types of applications, Neuronet will be tailored to "immersive" virtual reality -- which brings to mind creepy William Gibson-esque brain experiments.

The kicker is that Neuronet won't be connected to the Internet. Its job its to bypass public networks to guarantee the bandwidth required for virtual reality. The network would be built over dark fiber during the next 12 to 18 months, according to the IAVRT Website.

IAVRT appears to be in stealth mode, with little information on the association or its backers (if there are any) on its Website. No founder names or biographies, either. That's led one blogger, Sven Johnson of reBang, to wonder if the whole thing is a scam.

"Scam" seems far-fetched, considering IAVRT is looking for corporate partners rather than general-public donations. "Overreaching" might be a better term.

We'll be seeing more ideas like this. GameRail in St. Louis has started up its own bypass network for online gamers, but it's working on a more concrete level: Its founders come from an ISP, and its target apps are the games people play now. (See 2006 Top Ten: Hot Markets.) And GameRail doesn't pretend to usurp the Internet, whereas Neuronet, from what little we can see, smacks of the kind of overthought revolution planned over one too many lattes.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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