Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Forterra's Serious Games Lowering Operations Costs

Serious Games providing NextGen communications


Via: Forterra Systems

Forterra has two significant news updates which are both covered in the enclosed press announcement issued Tuesday afternoon:

1) According to customers and analysts their OLIVE product delivers a better user experience and is cheaper than either audio or Web conferencing and

2) They are announcing the availability of OLIVE 2.2 release for shipment later this month with several advanced collaboration features and integration to Lotus Sametime.

The press announcement below summarizes these new features.

PRESS RELEASE

VIRTUAL WORLDS—BETTER EXPERIENCE AND LESS COSTLY THAN CONFERENCE CALLS

Forterra Systems Offers Innovative Collaboration Features and IBM Lotus Sametime Integration with OLIVE 2.2 Release


SAN MATEO, Calif. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — Forterra Systems, a market and technology leader in enterprise virtual worlds, announced yesterday that it will ship the 2.2 release of its OLIVE™ (On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment) software platform this month.

The release includes new collaboration features and IBM Lotus Sametime integration.

The new features have prompted feedback from several customers in global organizations and analysts that virtual meetings in OLIVE are both more engaging and less expensive then traditional Web and audio conference calls.


The combination of OLIVE’s spatially accurate VoIP-based audio along with several new media-sharing features and Lotus Sametime integration provides the next generation of interactive communications infrastructure. This new approach will be appealing for enterprises looking to improve organizational communications, collaboration, and training while lowering their operations costs.

With the challenging financial times most enterprises are curtailing travel and rethinking how their organizations hold events, training sessions, conduct periodic meetings, or improve their collaboration processes. Audio and Web conferencing are inexpensive, ubiquitous, and generally easy to use. However for meetings involving complex or longer topics the participants can be challenged to grasp the discussion context and maintain focus due to multi-tasking. Virtual meetings in OLIVE are proving to be less expensive yet more engaging and productive for users. Most enterprise-grade teleconferencing systems charge $0.10 to $0.25 per person per minute which can equate to thousands of dollars of expense per employee every year. OLIVE pricing is an order of magnitude less.

Forterra believes the fastest path for large-scale virtual world adoption within organizations is for 3D meetings to be an easy-to-use extension of the existing unified communications tools employees already use every day. 


Forterra’s integration of OLIVE with Lotus Sametime is the first robust offering in the market to pursue this strategy. When integrated to Lotus Sametime, immersive 3D environments built with OLIVE provide an interactive communications platform that is unsurpassed for collaboration, training, and knowledge management use cases.

In their October 31, 2008 Forrester Research report titled Will Unified Communications Make Virtual Worlds Relevant To Business, TJ Keitt and Henry Dewing indicated “As the workplace has changed and as decentralized information workers demand tools to allow them to work together, companies have to rethink their collaboration, training, and knowledge management schemes. According to a recent survey of North American and European enterprise IT decision-makers, 49% view implementing an enterprise collaboration strategy as a priority in the next 12 months. However, current collaboration and knowledge management tools are still developing and often jumble efforts to bring together employees rather than streamlining their interactions. Consolidating information worker tools in a holistic platform is a trend that Forrester has labeled as the Information Workplace. Virtual worlds, with their rich graphical interfaces, seem — at least on the surface — to be great for simulating a gamut of experiences to these distributed information workers.”

"Our customers are asking how their communications and collaboration strategy can combine real-time presence, voice and data sharing capabilities with the richness of virtual worlds”, noted Bruce Morse, vice president of unified communications and collaboration, IBM Lotus. "We believe Forterra's plug-in to Sametime will provide important functionality for our customers, and be an easy means for users to start experiencing a virtual world."

The key OLIVE capabilities being released this month include:



  • A Virtual Meeting Reservation System that allows a meeting organizer to reserve a 3D room type (example: auditorium, board room, classroom), room equipment (example: projector screen size, chairs, and podiums), and to invite mandatory and optional attendees. Invitations are sent out through the user’s native email system (example: Lotus Notes, MS Exchange), and if accepted display in their native calendaring system.

  • Presenting on 3D screens and viewing by all participants a spectrum of media including MS PowerPoint files, streaming videos (Windows Media Player®-based), any software application running on a Windows desktop, and collaborative whiteboards.

  • A Lotus Sametime plug-in so users can achieve single sign-on to OLIVE from Lotus Sametime, instantly invite colleagues to join a 3D meeting directly from their Lotus Sametime client, or schedule a future meeting through the Virtual Meeting Reservation System. 

  • Presence awareness of other OLIVE or Sametime users logged in. Users can quickly join a colleague in a virtual environment by teleporting to their location.

  • Avatar profiles through integration with any social networking system like LinkedIn, Facebook, Lotus Connections, or a Learning Management System or enterprise HR system so users can view the profile of another meeting attendee by right clicking on their avatar.

  • Simplified firewall port configuration and compatibility so IT departments can set the communications for OLIVE to work through two firewall ports. OLIVE has always supported being able to deploy entirely behind a firewall.

  • Support for 3D model import into OLIVE for Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, Google Sketchup, Blender, Poser Pro, FaceGen, and Softimage, and other content authoring tools which provide COLLADA file export options.
About Forterra Systems

Forterra Systems is the leader in providing enterprise-grade virtual world technology for the corporate, healthcare, government, education, and entertainment industries. Forterra's software and services enable organizations to collaborate, train, rehearse, and hold events using existing media technologies integrated into a compelling 3D virtual world.

Using the OLIVE™ (On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment) platform and industry standard PC hardware, customers can rapidly generate realistic, collaborative, 3D Internet solutions that scale from single user applications to large scale simulated environments supporting many thousands of concurrent users for public and private use cases.
IBM, Lotus and Sametime are trademarks of IBM Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both.