As you can see from the post dates, this is an archived site. I am leaving it up and public as it continues to get traffic. I continue to be immersed in virtual and social worlds, but time and attention forces me to "be" elsewhere. But I am coming back.
Mary Ellen Gordon of Market Truths, aka Pebbles Hannya, is leading the business track this year, and she is inviting you to submit a session proposal.
"We are hoping that the business track will include participation from people who are interested in using Second Life for a variety of different business and enterprise applications (meetings, events, collaboration, marketing,training, etc.) and view the platform from a variety of perspectives user companies, content creators, developers, consultants, etc.).
"We're also interested in sessions relating to case studies of past experiences, current challenges and best practices, and the future potential of Second Life for business and enterprise applications."
Hope to see you there and look forward to sitting in on your session!
Today at the National Retailers Expo in New York, Cisco announced a virtual environment that just might be what marketers and business have been waiting for to jump back in. It is dubbed United Nations Citizens, "where faithful friends unite."
Cisco has been working in this direction for more than three years, and this is, in part, the result. I believe there is a lot more to come.
Not a lot of news available yet beyond the press release and some basic information on the web site, but this signals a tipping point (my forecast). Fascinating to me that Equifax is a major partner.
New Virtual World Enables Companies to Utilize Paid Online Assistants, Next-Generation Avatars
United Nations Citizens Features Lifelike Stores With Digital Signage, Paid Employees, Data Supported by Cisco Systems, Equifax, and Heads and Tails
NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - January 13, 2010) - Making use of the core graphics engine used in the smash hit "AVATAR," Cisco Systems and Equifax have partnered with Heads & Tails TV, Faithful Friends TV & Montage Systems, to create United Nations Citizens (http://www.unitednationscitizens.com), a virtual living environment for consumers and businesses, unveiled today at the 99th Annual National Retailers Federation Expo in New York.
United Nations Citizens is a collaboration of numerous international partners that have invested millions of dollars into technologies that provide e-tailers with a unique virtual world. Featuring lifelike avatars for both stores and consumers, United Nations Citizens enables online commissioned sales assistants and paid greeters to become faithful friends helping consumers with questions and purchases.
"We've created the world's first virtual workplace where real people can actually hold down good paying jobs," said Anthony Loiacono, CEO at Heads & Tails TV. "We've created a whole new way of putting people to work, selling the products and services of more than 330 name brand retailers."
A number of next-generation features are used in United Nations Citizens, including in-world HD television screens with passion point programming and active website links; audio chat capabilities with paid greeters from in-world companies; state-of-the-art media file servers to ensure a pure HD experience; hyper-local programming opportunities, such as high school sports, festivals, fashion, game and social media networks; plus mobile and online extensions for a more robust experience.
"Advances in virtual and augmented technologies allow content to reach audiences in methods that were speculation in the prior decade. Cisco Digital Media Creative Services along with global content and innovative partners such as Heads & Tails will provide solutions that address the content demands of the new decade as showcased at the National Retail Federation show in New York City," said Dos Dosanjh, World Wide Customer Solutions Manager of Marketing with Cisco Digital Media Creative Services.
More than 330 stores already are members of United Nations Citizens through affiliate marketing agreements, including Apple iTunes, Microsoft Store, Walmart, and Sky Mall, providing customers a unique way to view products and services in a setting that replicates real-world environments. Member companies are able to scale real-life presentations, combined with data collection, personalized product placement and digital signage, through seamless delivery over the web and mobile networks.
"By providing database management for United Nations Citizens, including geo-coding and geo-targeting for e-commerce and m-commerce offerings and content, Equifax is continuing its dedication to developing virtual technology," said Dann Adams, President of US Information Solutions at Equifax, Inc. "In 2009 alone, there was more than one billion in revenue from 200 million virtual customers, a number that's expected to grow to 1.6 billion in 2010, and we want to be a major part of providing services to this growing consumer and business space."
For more information about United Nations Citizens and how to become a member, visit www.unitednationscitizens.com. Pictures/ Video at: www.headsandtails.tv/ciscopress
About Cisco Systems
Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate.
Equifax, (NYSE: EFX), empowers businesses and consumers with information they can trust. A global leader in information solutions, we leverage one of the largest sources of consumer and commercial data, along with advanced analytics and proprietary technology, to create customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Equifax Inc. operates in the U.S. and 14 other countries throughout North America, Latin America and Europe.
About Heads and Tails TV
Provides television programming, syndication, turnkey production services, and its shows such as Faithful Friends TV offers over 200 hours of television programming supporting pet parents. Core relationships and licensing expertise enables celebrity and business contracts, such as NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, WWE's Bill Goldberg, and active ties to SONY, NBC and other programming outlets.
About Montage Systems
Developer of the network operations center for a scalable infrastructure for data collection, graphic engine and mobile integrations, middleware implementation and human interface technologies.
Roll up for the magical mystery tour. Got everything you need; satisfaction guaranteed.
7 Days Magic Bakery feels a bit magical, mixing the ambiance of a Pixar movie with a playground of the immersive kind.
The consensus is the 7 Days Bakery build is a winner – and I must say I agree. The sim, textures and colors are visually beautiful, rendered in Maya and imported into SL (for some very good interoperability reasons). The overall feel is a touch Willy Wonka with a lot French country village crossed with a place I want to live. I’ll let others fill you in on the build critique – I’m focused a bit more on the behind-the-scenes.
Involve3D won the 7 Days business, upstaging its competitors, by emphasizing Involve’s ability to enhance the brand, build upon social networking, create entertainment value and interaction while adhering to “low branding,” according to Involve CEO, Drew Stein. They’ve done a good job fulfilling the promise so far, and there is more in this integrated campaign yet to come.
The one thing I zeroed in on is the playing out of the all-important backstory and narrative that was developed as the foundation for the Magic Bakery implementation and to which Involve adheres in every detail. Chef Vivardi comes to life here whose job it is to supply the world with wholesome foods. Without taking any mystery out of your tour, the narrative of the brand – wholesome snacks to fit modern lifestyles – is present without dominating. Most importantly it forms the starting point of the 3D story, framing the entertainment, social aspects and interaction. There are rebellious robots, undeniably adorable machines all around, media textures that add life, and movie-quality voice-overs and music. In my opinion the music just totally makes it all come together.
Stein tells me the pre-production storyboarding, concept art and voice-over scripting took 8 weeks – a bit more than half of the total production time. The 7 Days team were up to their elbows in commitment with the VP of marketing, brand managers and a 6-person team each representing core markets involved in every step of the process. It was time well spent, as the result is a sim that doesn’t tell a story but has the ingredients to support a story. Kudos to both Involve and the 7 Days brand for assigning importance to the key narrative.
The central character is actually the snack factory (although there are others to engage you along the way) where avatars create their own unique pastries each with their own little fun [secret] magic. Avatars are able to share their personal creations with other avatars, and a clever HUD makes it possible to take pastries to other SL lands and to recall and swap them (although they can only be eaten once by any avatar – of course!). Rumor has it the upcoming (Q-1) Flash factory site will be interoperable with the SL factory, so that every pastry ever created in either factory will be retrievable and sharable thanks to the Amazon web services underpinnings.
I do have a wish list, though. The central pastry-making activity is fun, but it is still largely a solitary activity, interacting with the pastry machine (even as the effects are very well-done). Yes, there are plenty of social spaces, and things to share (movie theater). In contrast though Involve’s implementation of the Weather Channel sim is better focused on immersive shared activities (skiing, surfing, biking) and I hope to see more of that kind of interactive experience magic develop here – the ingredients are all there.
What partly makes for interactive “fun” in these virtual spaces includes mastery - something the major activity of 7 Days is lacking. Although avatars can create hundreds of one-of-a-kind yummies, something that takes practice would be even more compelling IMO.
That said, 7 Days is a warm, inviting, satisfying SL experience. Case in point, a Koinup 7Days widget is already available to embed your works into 2D web space (this is user-generated, not part of the campaign).
There is a microsite in the works that will include the Flash factory, a themed orientation island is to come and machinima will be making its way into TV commercials.
I’ll be keeping tabs on 7 Days to see what SLer’s cook up with the whole concoction – that’s the real secret success sauce.
Visit 7 Day Magic Bakery here - it is an SL must see.
Sheraton has installed Microsoft Surface Virtual Concierge 30-inch tables in the lobbies of five locations: Boston, New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco. Applications include CityTips with attractions, eateries, shopping, maps, and transportation; a digital jukebox; and SheratonSnapshots, a library of photos of Sheraton resorts.
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