Earlier this year, I attended an event where IBM pledged to pump $1 billion into unified communications and collaboration software, which combines software such as e-mail and instant messaging with communications applications such as voice over IP.
UCC, as IBM and others such as Microsoft, Nortel and Avaya envision it, marries traditionally individual productivity applications to improve the way workers collaborate with each other, as well as with partners or customers.
IBM's Research moved to advance IBM's UCC strategy with a new project that integrates 3-D virtual reality environments with IBM's popular Lotus Sametime instant messaging application. IBM is showcasing the experimental mashup, called Sametime 3-D, at the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo in Los Angeles Sept. 3.
As the name of the mashup implies, Sametime 3-D lets users instant message co-workers and launch into a 3-D environment directly from within the Sametime chat session.
The application creates a virtual meeting space on the fly leveraging the typical properties found in a virtual environment, including avatars, presentation tools and access to 3-D objects.
Once Sametime 3-D is launched, collaborators can attach files, select a meeting space type and sign in using existing enterprise authentication tools.
Though not available in this early iteration of Sametime 3-D, IBM will eventually allow meeting initiators to capture text chat, video recording of the meeting and maintain a record of participants and materials.
An IBM spokesperson told me today company officials have not set a timetable for when Sametime 3-D will appear in the Lotus Sametime application. My guess is it could appear in 2009, with IBM adding it free to the Sametime app.