Virtual World will soon be reality (Imagine a world that is safe and controlled by you).

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While virtual worlds like Second Life have come under fire for failing
to provide enough value to businesses with established storefront
operations, a new Forrester Research Inc. report argues that the 3-D
Internet will be as important to companies in five years as the Web is

The “Getting Work Done in Virtual Worlds” report released by the IT
research firm this week concludes that executives should begin
investigating and experimenting with virtual worlds soon because of
their promise for remote collaboration, training and the ability to
build and share 3-D models.

The report said that today’s collaboration tools offer far more
limited benefits to companies. For example, the inability to see the
gestures of fellow meeting goers causes problems for attendees in
different offices, the report noted.

In a virtual world, people can have their name, job title and business
unit associated with an avatar that can attend meetings and have
access to virtual buildings, rooms, equipment and people, Forrester
said. The avatar is controlled by information in an enterprise
directory and access control system, it said.

“You can easily direct your avatar to express gestures and
emotions …
plus you can leave behind real-world unpleasantness such as the poor
heat in your cubicle while your next door neighbor is burning or the
loud guy talking the phone next to you,” according to the report. “[In
meetings] you always know who is talking and who’s anxious to jump
into conversation because they are waving their hand or jumping up and
down in the corner of the room.

“In a virtual meeting room, you can see who is present, and more
importantly, who is multi-tasking, who has raised a hand or who has
been away from their keyboard so long that their avatar has fallen
asleep,” the report said.

The virtual model is especially important for professionals like
surgeons, architects, engineers and product designers, who use CAD
models or visualization systems to explore or create projects,
Forrester said. In virtual meetings, these professionals can import
models for discussion and modification, according to the report.

“You can release near-final designs to a limited group of external
users and solicit feedback before starting fabrication,” it said
Starwood Hotels used Second Life to trial its new Aloft hotel concept
designed for urban 30- to 50-year-olds, Forrester noted, while
Princeton University has undertaken a similar project to manage
distributed teams working on a large-scale astrophysics project.

Virtual worlds can also eliminate the expense of remote training and
provide a better experience by simulating on the job experiences as
well as recording the training so that multiple sessions can be run
across time zones and different job descriptions, according to

The report noted that the University of Maryland worked with the I-95
Corridor Coalition to build a virtual world simulation of highway
emergencies using the OLIVE Platform from Forterra Systems Inc., which
allows participants to assume a role like a firefighter or police
officer and interact with others in a simulated emergency.

In addition, it said that Duke University and Virtual Heroes Inc. are
collaborating to create a high-fidelity 3-D virtual environment for
health care. That effort, funded by the US Army, combines gaming
concepts with health care coordination to help train health care
professionals in team work and communication skills.

The research effort did find that many businesses are holding back
from virtual efforts due to the notion of some people that virtual
worlds are frivolous places “where deviant personalities can exhibit
their alter egos” and by the advanced skills — similar to those used
by sophisticated gamers — required to operate one, it said. In
addition, typical materials associated with meetings like word
processing documents and spreadsheets are likely to be missing from a
virtual world. Finally, virtual worlds are usually bandwidth hogs that
are likely to hang or require multiple reboots, Forrester added.

To offset such challenges, Forrester recommends that companies first
experiment with a virtual world, where set up costs can be as low as
$60 per user per month. At the same time, companies should set up
policies defining the acceptable use of virtual world and “keep a
laser-like focus on the desired outcome” like making remote workers
feel more like a part of the company or reducing manufacturing costs,
the report noted.

About Faisal Ebrahim

Tech enthusiast, IT & Cybersecurity consultant & Sales manager. I'm passionate about staying ahead of the curve on emerging technologies, including EVs, AI, robotics, and the metaverse. For over 15 years, I've explored and shared these innovations on my blog,

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