If you are familiar with Second Life, you can visualize a tool with similar functionalities that allows enterprise companies (especially remote workers) to meet in an online world (virtually) using 3D models (avatars) where they can text and talk to each other (at the basic level). What makes this enterprise friendly is the collaboration features offered by some of them – You can see different types of files/documents together with your team and even work on some of them simultaneously along with your colleagues – Now, that’s something to ponder upon!
What do you do if you want to communicate with your team that is spread across multiple cities? Use a phone to talk to them? Use Meet-Me conferencing to conduct audio conferences? Use Skype to make an online presentation/ voice chat with the participants? Use Webex to conduct professional Webinars? Use Video Conferencing to see and talk to people on the other end while simultaneously transferring a presentation? Use Google Docs to allow multiple personnel to collaborate on the same document(s)?
Have a look at this video (Youtube, 5 Minutes approx).
How about meeting your team members, colleagues (or) customers like that in a Virtual Online 3D meeting space?
Basically, Three Dimensional (3D) models are being created for each person, office / meeting space, etc where each person can walk into a virtual office space which also has the 3D models of their peers/ co-workers and it is possible for these 3D avatars to message each other/ talk to each other and even collaborate with each other over the Internet/ LAN/ WAN. How closer can a virtual meeting get to real meeting, than that?
Additional features might make such virtual worlds, more like real life. For example, voice could be heard louder / clearer when you are talking with a person (3D avatar) near you and it could be softer/ less-loud when they are at a distance. When you are having a group talk with others in the virtual world, you could also add people from the real world via phone conversations/ video conversations. When you drag and drop a document from your computer, it could be displayed on a public wall within the virtual world so that your colleagues can see the document, collaborate with you by taking (joint) control on working/ applying changes to the document.
What could be the possible applications for such a 3D based virtual environment?
- Online Meetings/ Conferences/ Group Chat
- Team members Collaborating with each other/ working together on projects/documents/presentations
- Corporate training to remote employees, as a group
- Educational seminars
- Product introduction/ training by vendors
- Customer/ Partner walk through for a product demonstration
- Company Review meetings
Perhaps much more – The applications are perhaps endless. You might even start working full time in these virtual offices with daily attendance in the future! All the remote employees will feel connected and there would be more interaction between them. No one will miss the ‘office atmosphere’!
There are quite a few commercial software applications available in the market today that enable these Virtual 3D Meeting/ Collaboration. They might come with many features that are tailored to cater to the enterprise segment. In fact, there is even an open source application for this purpose called Open Wonderland which you could download and use free of cost. Its important to try such applications in your environment to see how it is being adopted / welcomed by the employees/ management and gauge the value it can create in your organization.
Organizations might want their own 3D virtual worlds (and not applications that are hosted in a public cloud) hosted on their servers to be accessed by employees using LAN (or) VPN – Virtual Private Networks for remote employee access. That’s exactly what Open Wonderland (and similar applications) allow you to do. You need to download a server software (to be installed in the corporate server) and perhaps a client software (to be loaded on the laptops/desktops) of employees. The client software can also be streamed and installed on demand, when a user wants to connect to the 3D virtual world. That’s it – your own virtual office is ready!
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