A brief summary of what’s been happening with IBM in virtual worlds in the first quarter of this year. It’s an impressive list.
Mike Rhodin, General Manager of IBM Lotus software, recently made five predictions about the future of collaborative working. They included open standards, increase in IM and other real-time tools. The number one prediction was
The Virtual Workplace will become the rule. No need to leave the office. Just bring it along. Desk phones and desktop computers will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including laptops, that take on traditional office capabilities. Social networking tools and virtual world meeting experiences will simulate the feeling on being their in-person. Work models will be changed by expanded globalisation and green business initiatives that reduce travel and encourage work at home.
“The definition of “meetings” will radically transform and become increasingly adhoc and instantaneous based on context and need. 3-D virtual world and gaming technologies will significantly influence online corporate meeting experiences to deliver more life-like experiences demanded by the next generation workers who will operate more efficiently in this familiar environment.”
Bruce Morse (IBM VP of Unified Communications and Collaboration) and Steve Mills (IBM Senior VP, Software Group) are both quoted in a recent eWeek article, which discusses a major investment in UCC, as well as an announcement about a partnership with virtual worlds company Forterra Systems. Specifically,
- So how big is the UCC market now? It’s still very early for true UCC solutions, according to Bruce Morse, IBM’s vice president of UCC. “Unification across the communications silos to the point where you’re mixing together voice, video, data, etc. with context is still in very much in an embryonic stage in terms of what people are doing.”
- Imagine using your Sametime application to set up a virtual meeting. Morse told eWEEK this will be possible in three to five years, as IBM is testing ways to integrate Sametime with virtual reality software, where employee avatars can assemble in virtual conference rooms. Sametime will let users invite other participants and communicate with Web conferencing.
- For example, IBM and virtual reality software maker Forterra Systems are programming a Sametime-based UCC solution, code-named Babel Bridge, that could allow U.S. intelligence agencies to use a common graphical collaboration system to communicate within a virtual world
see also: http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2008/03/ibm-and-forterr.html
Sametime development manager Konrad Lagarde gave a demo during LotusSphere this year. He demonstrated some early integration between IBM’s internal Metaverse and Sametime.
During the presentation, Lagarde text chatted with a participant, also a 3-D avatar, who shows his enthusiasm by jumping up and down. Lagarde also showed a conference call feature for the Sametime client with pictures of invited attendees arranged around a two-dimensional drawing of a conference table. Those that are already present are shown around the table, while at the bottom of the screen are shaded photos of those who are invited but have not yet arrived.
Dan Pelino, General Manager, IBM Global Healthcare & Life Sciences Industry announced the IBM Virtual Healthcare Island in Second Life in February.
“We believe that the use of our new virtual world provides an important, next-generation Internet-based resource to show how standards; business planning; the use of a secured, extensible and expandable architecture; HIE interoperability; and data use for healthcare analytics, quality, wellness and disease management are all helping to transform our industry.“ IBM’s Healthcare & Life Sciences (HCLS) Industry will continue to develop the new island in months to come. The island can perform as a virtually “always on” demonstration tool for IBM’s sales personnel.
Michael Osias of IBM Research is quoted in an announcement about a 3D visualisation of a data centre, which was implemented using OpenSim.
Implenia, a Swiss construction, building services and real estate company, used the IBM virtual data center solutions to extend its existing virtual operations center which was previously used mainly for the facilities management processes. Adding the data from datacenter equipment allowed Implenia a finer control of the HVAC and security system. The virtual data center is a tailored 3-D replica of servers, racks, networking, power and cooling equipment that allows data center managers to experience real-time enhanced awareness of their dispersed resources.
“Viewing information about your data center in 2-D text — even in real time — only tells a data center manager part of the story, because our brains are wired for sight and sound,” said IBM Researcher Michael Osias, who architected the 3-D data center service. “By actually seeing the operations of your data center in 3-D, even down to flames showing hotspots and visualizations of the utilization of servers allows for a clearer understanding of the enterprise resources, better informed decision-making and a higher level of interaction and collaboration.”
see also http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2008/02/ibm-launches-3.html
PowerUp (powerupthegame.org) is an educational game created by IBM, using the Torque engine. It teaches teenagers about engineering as well as environmental issues. PowerUp is
a free, online, multiplayer game that allows students to experience the excitement and the diversity of modern engineering. Playing the game, students work together in teams to investigate the rich, 3D game environment and learn about the environmental disasters that threaten the game world and its inhabitants.
see also http://annieok.com/tangent/?p=505
Emotiv (emotiv.com) and IBM announced a partnership in February around a headset which “interprets the interaction of neurons in the brain” and is due to go on sale later in 2008.
“It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless signals to a computer,” said Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm Emotiv.
Emotiv is working with IBM to develop the technology for uses in “strategic enterprise business markets and virtual worlds” Paul Ledak, vice president, IBM Digital Convergence said brain computer interfaces, like the Epoc headset were an important component of the future 3D Internet and the future of virtual communication.
Bluegrass was discussed in January 2008 in the Virtual Worlds News blog
IBM Research is working to solve the digital divide in the workforce with Project Bluegrass, a project that integrates three key factors in motivating Millennials — collaboration, communication and visualization. Project Bluegrass takes the IBM Jazz technology and creates a virtual-world environment where software developers can work, chat and brainstorm around a virtual water cooler while “seeing” their teammates alongside interactive visual representations of ideas, data from the Web and from Jazz-based sources.