Notes from the mediascape: L.A. Hard Hats launches in Lively

Google's latest innovation is the launch of a virtual world with portability. And the first brand to sign on is a broadcaster pumping a television premiere.

National Geographic Channel in the US is promoting its upcoming series L.A. Hard Hats using the recently launched Lively by Google virtual environment tool. Unlike Second Life, Lively by Google allows users to build virtual rooms inside their own websites.

Lively by Google also lets users choose an avatar, dress it up and use it to make friends and chat. They can create and decorate rooms, invite friends over, move between rooms and have private or group conversations.

San Francisco-based creative agency Millions of Us worked on the L.A. Hard Hats environment. The show is set to premiere in the US on August 3 and follows the contractors building an eco-friendly structure, while the virtual room emulates construction scenes.

The L.A. Hard Hats user experience begins inside the National Geographic centre in Lively by Google. The virtual building is under intense ‘construction’ and will evolve in tandem with the TV series’ six episodes. A caution tape banner invites visitors to step inside and explore a virtual skyscraper under construction. Once inside the space, visitors are transported 23 floors up to an open-air view from the skyscraper’s highest point.

Millions of Us VP business development Ted Tagami says the company’s objective is to ‘help seamlessly integrate additional brands into this very promising online space.’ As an agency specializing in virtual worlds, Millions of Us has also produced work for 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Toyota, Microsoft and Intel.

In other virtual news of interest to broadcasters, New York-based Electric Sheep Company has released a Flash-based app for building virtual worlds called WebFlock. US net Showtime has previously hired the company to build a Second Life presence for The L Word, and now the broadcaster is reportedly testing WebFlock.