Rich Tehrani has a very interesting post
about Nortel's foray into virtualized business meetings. Think Second Life virtual world meets business world...
Rich participated in a virtual world demo with Nortel where they showed him web.alive
. This business-oriented virtual world looks eerily similar to Second Life, including the 3D avatars, and 3D world but under the covers it sports something else - namely 3D audio powered by DiamondWare 3D stereoVoIP technology. Both Rich and I have espoused DiamondWare's technology over the years and recently their technology was acquired by Nortel
. No doubt Nortel was impressed as well, and this virtualized business meeting world with 3D audio appears to be the fruits of that acquisition.
Rich explains, "I have touted DiamondWare's patented technology for over half a decade and it is as impressive now as it has ever been. It allows you to have your voice volume increase and decrease as you get closer or move farther away from others. It also allows you to hear people on the left or right when they talk and it seems these people are really speaking from one direction or another."
Rich goes on to explain that the technology could be used to power virtual tradeshows, as seen by the screenshot above showing what could be a keynote room complete with full Powerpoint and video & telepresence support. Does this mean no more Internet Telephony Expo in sunny Miami in the middle of winter here in the Northeast? Nomore pressing the flesh? Say it ain't so, Rich!
Rich seems excited by the technology when he says, "I really feel like Nortel is onto something here. This could just be a short-lived fad but it just seems like there is just so much productivity boosting that can be done with virtual business worlds - it just has to happen."
Rich is one of the busiest guys I know - a true multitasker, so he's always looking for the most efficiency in business. Considering how many internal & external meetings Rich participates in, I can see why he likes the idea of 3D virtualized meetings.
I'm a little more skeptical. Reading Rich's demo, I like the idea of "the room of silence", the ability to 'dress up' to indicate to co-workers that you are an an important meeting with clients (so they don't interrupt), and the ability for 3D voice is certainly cool & sexy. I'm just not sure these features replace the good ole' telephone with a WebEx session. I suppose for meetings larger than 6 people, this idea makes more sense, since I've been in conference calls where you get too many people talking at once and you can't tell who is the one talking. The 3D audio with animated avatars could certainly help for larger meetings. Though meeting software such as WebEx allows you to raise your hand to speak. Maybe if I held a few meetings in Nortel's Web.Alive I'd be less skeptical. Definitely has the coolness factor though.
In any event, check out Rich's blog for more details
, including a plethora of screenshots.