ProtoSphere and Lync: more than voice

Last week, ProtonMedia made a formal announcement about a project I first reported on in September  of this year that ProtoSphere, the 3D enterprise collaboration and learning tool, is  now fully integrated with Microsoft’s  Lync Server 2010. The Lync server is a software product that unifies enterprise voice, instant messaging and web-, audio- and videoconferencing into a, connected communications experience.

Here is a video that explains the relationship of how ProtoSphere sits on top of Lync and SharePoint and the capabilities of the platform with Ron Burns, President of ProtonMedia and Albert Kooiman, Sr. Technical Product Manager of Microsoft Lync.

How it works

The new integration allows for land line quality voice over IP virtual world connections. The integration (first of its kind that I know of) provides echo-free sound every time one or more people communicate via voice with ProtoSphere. Additionally, the integration means that the VoIP is always on. Always on-VoIP people interacting in the space can speak and hear others the moment they enter a zone for hands-free talking. This is huge news as in many virtual worlds there are delays, dropped communication and annoying echoes and other sound anomalies that interfere with seamless and smooth communication.  This order of magnitude increase in sound quality puts a call in a virtual world on the same par with conference calls which means quality of sound communications with a virtual world will no longer be an issue.

However, one issue that is difficult to overcome using a virtual world is that every participant typically has to be at a computer and logged into the virtual world to participate. Calling in from a landline to a virtual world conference has proved difficult and with some platforms, impossible.

Enter another important aspect of the Lync integration announcement. ProtoSphere now has dial-out functionality. This innovative functionally allows for the calling of landlines, mobile phones or conference bridges from within Photosphere.  So now collaboration can occur in a truly blended environment between those in the virtual world and those travelling or unable to be at a computer but who still need to communicate with colleagues within the virtual world.

What’s it in for business

To me, one of the most exciting aspects of the formal announcement is the complete integration of virtual 3D software with enterprise communication applications. ProtoSphere already integrated with SharePoint and now has integrated with Lync, in fact, they renamed ProtoSphere 1.6 as ProtoSphere Lync Edition 2010. What this does is move the vision of a single, integrated collaboration platform for enterprise usage to reality. Imaging logging into a single 3D virtual collaborative environment every morning when arriving at work (whether you are working from home or in an office) and accessing all you need from a single 3D location. You can then access email, communicate in meetings with colleagues all over the world as if they were next to you, enter into SharePoint to update a document, then seamlessly walk with a colleague to take a look at a prototype, a 3D factory layout or interact in a sales role play.  All of these are huge implications for many industries including the life sciences where I think 3D virtual worlds will first take hold in the corporate sector.

A step forward

This announcement moves the 3D virtual collaborative software industry front and center in the collaboration space and provides a rich, visually appealing and compelling environment in which to hold meetings, collaborate and to create real value across distances. This is an exciting time within the virtual world industry and partnerships and collaboration with large enterprise software vendors is a real indicator of the traction 3D virtual enterprise applications are receiving in the marketplace.

More information

If you want to learn more about the linkages of Microsoft and ProtoSphere, here are some links:

ProtoSphere Lync Edition 2010

ProtoSphere Lync Edition 2010 Super Feature Peek: Microsoft Lync Sever 2010 integration

And, if you have time, attend the webinar about the topic, here are the details:

What: Leveraging Microsoft Lync and ProtonMedia ProtoSphere in Life Sciences: A New Dimension in Virtual Collaboration for the High Performance Workplace

When: Tuesday, Dec. 14 from 2 p.m. EST to 3 p.m. EST
Presenters: Ron Burns, CEO, ProtonMedia
Les Jordan, Chief Technology Strategist, Microsoft Life Sciences

(This article reprinted with permission from Kapp Notes.)'