Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2009 by randyhinrichs

Forterra uses realistic-looking and realistic 3D avatars. The purpose of using realism is to developed trusted relationships between the avatar, the participants and the credibility of the experience. When a platform integrates ease of use into their reality with drag and drop media presentation, suddenly the experience is enhanced to a point of making a virtual world a useful tool for learning. Add SCORM content, industry leading 3D modeling tools, and unified communication technology like IBM Lotus Sametime, and you get an enterprise learning tool.

Forterra does high quality VOIP, and it is spatially and accurately 3D audio based. Forterra delivers on VOIP in a way that is clear, precise and produces a quality experience which brings even more realism to the environment. Fail at voice, and you go back into 1938 with Ham Radios. Likely you’ll have a base of aficionados who like that sort of crackle, over, Roger technology. Too many virtual worlds ache in the area of VOIP. Not Forterra.

Forterra also boasts high quality built-in automated gestures for avatars, such as breathing and blinking of the eyes, as well as lip synching, emotions and hand gestures when speaking. This feature is tantamount to feeling like you’re talking to someone. The gestures may not reflect what the real person is thinking however. Since they are automated, they don’t reveal much psychological information about the user. You really couldn’t determine nervousness, apprehension, over extension, or intent. These subtleties must come from what they are saying and the contexts you are placed in.

The ability to get to know the avatar better is served with avatar name tags and optional profile web links. Avatars display visual cues to indicate who is speaking. Other virtual worlds have tackled this problem as well some doing it better than others, some not doing it well at all. The point is, this feature is a real improvement over the anonymity of teleconferencing. If we could connect all the features of teleconferencing into the avatar world, make it affordable and enable user generated content with easy to use tools, we’d have quite the virtual world.

Forterra is determined to use their solution to transform enterprise business processes through virtual worlds. They do that by creating some notable use cases: media-rich collaboration meetings in which PowerPoint, documents and video are integrated with simple drop and drag. They enable both formal and informal training environments in particular recreating large-scale rehearsals or emergency simulations. You can hold large group events, conduct new employee on-boarding, launch and market products, program manage any project, and create war or situation rooms for any triage like event.

Forterra’s OLIVE platform provides both outside-the-firewall, hosted virtual worlds for initial experimentation, events or intra-organizational collaboration and behind the firewall options to meet enterprise IT needs. Both of these options leverage pre-created, professionally developed 3D content packs and custom content.

OLIVE is available for license in two ways: Developer Programs and Deployment Licenses. Developer programs provide the OLIVE Software Development Kit (SDK) and bundled support to develop applications. The Deployment Licenses are delivering the service to users. All programs include a non-production Developer license of OLIVE. They use content packs containing pre-built virtual world assets. They also offer hosting. The programs break down as basic developer, standard developer, and premium developer.

The Forterra bundle includes a 6-month or 12-month license, a limited number of training and developer services (including design, debugging, prototyping, 3D content development assistance), technical support per case, and possible hosting services, with added media server support for extra. This translates into a license to use the software with limited training and support, and content provision with either their development services or 3rd party services. Being a platform company, one has to wonder about the ability to do content creation for you without having to outsource to 3rd parties anyway.

Forterra offers a fair choice – it has good graphics, great voice over IP, firewall solutions, content libraries, animated avatars, 360 video capture, extremely easy integration with Office documents, and SCORM compliance. The importance of SCORM compliance is dwindling to some degree in its effectiveness, but the overhead has just become too high. It’s one of those government funded really good ideas, but let’s leave that for another blog.

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3D TLC

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2009 by randyhinrichs

The 3D Training, Learning and Collaboration conference has come and gone in San Jose. Our reflections conclude that something is astir in the virtual world. This year we were not talking about technology barriers and whether an organization should think about using virtual world technology, we were talking about how they use it. In the session led by Randy Hinrichs, Club One Fitness, Cisco and Fuji/Xerox demonstrated just how they were using virtual worlds to meet business needs within organizations.

2b3d started the session off with, it’s about doing there, not about being there. They reminded the audience of last year’s Ernst and Young interactive warehouse for doing inventory observation audits. The solution is to enter into a warehouse and start counting inventory. The principles are maintained in Theory Plaza outside the warehouse if you need to find out why you haven’t reconciled to the count sheets yet. Try it again, and again.

2b3d brings EY warehouse observation to the game.

2b3d brings EY warehouse observation to the game.

In terms of getting down into the micro word of installation for a DVR device. 2b3d suggests that you get right into the context of the environment and show the trainee exactly where the cable is and where the outlet is. Got any questions, ask the database, or even better ask a consultant who shows up and watches you do the work.

Learning by doing and being observed while you do it.

Learning by doing and being observed while you do it.

More visceral experiences abound in looking at doing damage estimates of a roof. One junior estimator lands on the roof in a virtual simulation of the damaged house, and a senior estimator lands on the roof with a simple question. How are you going to calculate the replacement of the shingles here? The Junior Assessor says, well I’d start counting the tiles and multiply that number by the cost per shingle. The young estimator reflects diligently by counting and multiplying. The Senior Estimator responds, we’ll if you’d like to get a nice even run of water off the roof, you might want to calculate the pitch of the roof and actually replace an entire row, count that number of shingles and multiple by the cost per shingle. The Junior Assessor responds, “yeah right”, and never forgets that lesson again. Perhaps he felt like his uncle showed up in the virtual world and helped him with a very simple rule on assessment.

Doing the calculate is different from just being on the roof.

Doing the calculate is different from just being on the roof.

Cisco is using Second Life’s Nebraska product to create a high performance trader floor and observe work flow by walking into a functional office during the middle of the day. Telephones are ringing, research is being conducted, trades are being decided upon over the network with various communications technology solutions. Students enter and observe employees at work. Then they teleport off to a brainstorming session, break into groups and come up with their Cisco intervention solution. All the solutions are aggregated onto a big screen for comparison. Then, they return to an office that has Cisco technologies integrated in the office and the data center, and watch how the HPTs pain points melt away.  How well did each group construct a solution. Which sales team would have won that quota?

Contextually situated and Collaborative Motivated

Contextually situated and Collaborative Motivated

Club One decided to tackle the 80% of the population that doesn’t come to a health club. Why don’t they come, maybe its for psychological reasons or visualization reasons. They’ve never been in a health club before, they are intimated to talk to life coaches, or get assessed, or discuss what their goals are. So, what if you could break that barrier and create another door into the health club — on through a virtual world. First, they could see what a health club looked like inside, meet a virtual life coach, talk about goals with anonymity, test out the equipment, perform some psychological tests, and create an avatar in the shape of their current body, with ways to get to their ideal body. Club One built a Second Life version of their best of breed clubs and integrated their fitness programs as services into the club. They are just beginning the testing phase of the project, and will be launching their solution in the next month.

Action Oriented and Participant Centered

Action Oriented and Participant Centered

The Virtual Factory project provided an example of industrial collaboration environments. They designed, created and applied new technologies in a real world factory setting, based on real users and real-world problems. They created a mixed realty space with collaborative applications for a specific task. They looked at six types of users with subsets of each and created an interlinked, real-time 3D, 2D and mobile layer of information exchange.

Consequentially Experienced and Participant Centered

Consequentially Experienced and Participant Centered

You see, a year is a decade in a virtual world, and the tools that have enabled various organizations to take their idea from the white board onto to the 3D surface of a social networking community have changed how fast you can conceptualize and realize. It really is about doing something there to demonstrate the power of the medium. Next year, your pictures will be here show what you can do in a virtual world to address your business needs. Perhaps it’s not about cost reduction, or cost avoidance anymore, perhaps Club One see revenue growth in club membership, and Cisco sales groups build solutions for their customers to close that sale.

2b3d or not to be 3D that is the question? Get it?

2b3d or not to be 3D that is the question? Get it?

Randy Hinrichs Blog

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 26, 2009 by randyhinrichs

The dynamics of virtual world competency, certification and exploration.

Reflections of a Year in a Virtual BioDome

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2009 by randyhinrichs

The University of Washington’s iSchool and University of Washington Education Outreach offered a Certificate in Virtual Worlds. In Winter Quarter 2009, we began a journey with students from across the nation. We entered into a series of virtual worlds in order to identify what the heck is this all about? What are the advantages of using a virtual world for education, for business, for fun, for self-fulfillment.

We agreed to stay together for an entire year, from Winter Quarter, through Spring Quarter, and finally ending up in Summer Quarter. We also choose to live by our virtual names and chronicle our experience both in a virtual world that we would choose and a Wiki. This blog is the story of our year together in what we called our Virtual BioDome.