The Snowstorm project is happy to announce that we have a Materials Project Viewer available for alpha testing of support for Normal and Specular maps on Second Life objects! When generally available, this will enable content creators to make much richer looking materials with less geometric complexity.
This is a very early test version - there are still known bugs, and certainly some that we don't know about yet. We do not recommend using it to manipulate content that you care about. Bugs should be reported in the Materials Project Viewer (MATBUG) project on Jira. If you use it, please leave automatic updates enabled, because we expect to release updates relatively frequently.
Information on how to prepare textures in a way that's compatible with the Materials Project Viewer available on the wiki.
This project is a great example of how we can improve Second Life through collaboration: it includes contributions from members of the Exodus, Firestorm, and Catznip development teams, as well as from Linden Lab. We don't yet have a target date for when it will be in the regular Release Viewer, but we're working toward that, and your help testing will make that happen sooner and with higher quality.