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.
Here is the press release from Marketwire:
Jan 13, 2010 08:00 ET
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.