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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