Tools Aim to Improve Virtual Meetings

New technologies for improving quality and experience of virtual meetings were showcased at the Collaborate East Conference & Expo in Boston.

New news in the Web conferencing and meetings space dominated the first day of the Collaborate East Conference & Expo in Boston Tuesday, with new technologies offered to improve quality and experience of such virtual meetings.

Pixion Inc. announced the availability of its Web conferencing technology as a hosted services offering, known as PictureTalk Hosted Services. Meanwhile, PlaceWare Inc. announced the adoption of components of BEA Systems WebLogic Platform 7.0 in its Web conferencing services.

In other news at the show, Sigma Design released the latest version of its eZMeeting collaboration tool, featuring new document design capabilities, and Open Text Corp. released add-ons to its Livelink collaboration platform.

Pixion, which had offered Web conferencing software before, is now delivering the same technology as a hosted service, with PictureTalk Hosted Services.

Executives at the company said the new service would operate without the bandwidth constraints of other Web conferencing services thanks to its patented Client-Server-Client architecture, which senses varying network transmission speeds and attendees individual platforms and viewing requirements, enabling the system to automatically allocate resources as needed.

The CSC architecture also enables integration with existing firewall technology, full-data encryption, bandwidth independence and multiple layers of password protection to protect sensitive data, company officials said.

PictureTalk Hosted Services also features a Seat Usage Monitor for customers to track usage of service and a presentation tool called Capture Frame that lets meeting presenters capture information in real-time right from their desktop and share it over the Internet with an unlimited number of attendees.

The service also supports Web-based audio conferencing and Windows, Macintosh and Solaris clients. Other features of PictureTalk Hosted Services include real-time document, presentation and file attachment sharing; application and desktop sharing; centralized calendaring; polling and quizzing; chat and VoIP record and playback; meeting lock-out; and customized reporting.

PlaceWare, which figures to compete with PictureTalk Hosted Services, announced Tuesday support for BEAs WebLogic Platform 7.0. The support will allow companies to organize and launch PlaceWare Web conferences through BEAs WebLogic Portal, via two portlets called My PlaceWare Meetings and Organizer Dashboard.

PlaceWare is also using WebLogic components in its RapidMeeting service, which allows users to schedule, enter and conduct meetings from Microsoft Outlook and Windows Messenger.

Also at the show, Sigma Design released version 2.3 of EZMeeting. The latest version allows users to organize, save and share their electronic information into one compound file format – the .ez file. Different file formats can then be combined in the presentation, regardless of whether the application that created them resides on the users system.

This version also improves eZmeetings Snapshot tool, giving users one-button-click capture of information from Web sites, software applications, video stills and other file types for sharing with other users.

EZMeeting can display more than 30 file types, from Microsoft Office files to CAD and 3D models. Other than MS Office applications, no other files require their native applications for viewing and sharing.

Also at Collaborate East Tuesday, Open Text Corp. announced two new add-ons to its Livelink collaboration platform. Livelink Unite lets users create personalized virtual workspaces in Livelink with content that fits their job roles and interests and gives them search capabilities of multiple data sources.

Users can customize their own workspaces this way or managers can push content and resources out to individuals and teams.

OpenText also announced a digital signature technology for Livelink called Livelink eSign, bringing electronic signature, workflow auditing and security features into Livelink.

Targeted at tightly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals, financial services and aerospace, the technology allows users to set up and manage processes for document certification that meet the requirements of their industries.

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