Monday, October 06, 2008

Intel and Qwaq team up to crack the Virtual Workspace

Ever since the plans were on the drawing table 3-D based collaboration software developer Qwaq has kept its eye on the price: The virtual workspace for the enterprise. It resulted in an environment where focus didn't go out to slick avatars, but towards integration of office applications.

Earlier this week Qwaq made a joint announcement with Intel according to which Miramar, a 3-D information space technology originally developed by Intel Corporation's research labs, will be brought to market by Qwaq, which reminds me somewhat of the joint collaboration of IBM and Linden Lab. It shows that the major players on the technology market understand the potential of 3D environments, have been working on it themselves for years, but failed to crunch the 3D-ness and need to team up with new emerging specialist companies, which in their turn could use a big partner to crack open closely sealed corporate IT doors.

First Intel is/will be using the Qwaq technology internally to improve their teamwork, an act which they apparently didn't get together in Second Life, where they also have a strong presence. It will enable information, which is now only available to individual departments or divisions, to be easily accessed and shared across the enterprise, in dynamic unified views.

Secondly, Qwaq and Intel plan to work together to integrate Miramar technology into a new cross-platform edition of Qwaq Forums, which is expected be available next year. As for Miramar’s backgrounder, the software with immersive 3D and 2D components was originally developed by Intel Architecture Labs aimed at increasing the productivity of distributed enterprises by enabling new information visualization capabilities across distributed teams.

A very thorough article on the collaboration was posted online yesterday at the TechRadar magazine and originally featured in PC Plus issue 274. Here's the introduction

Working in a virtual world

Leave your car - and yourself - at home. Here's a virtual office
you can actually work in.

The use of virtual worlds and genuine 3D interfaces for anything other than fun and frolics has been a long time coming.

Granted, virtual worlds such as Second Life get an awful lot of media coverage, but until recently they remained a niche activity, even among the gaming community.

However, thanks to years of research by Intel and a collaborative effort with a specialist company known as Qwaq, 3D visual metaphors in general and virtual worlds in particular are becoming the latest business productivity tools, used for all kinds of collaborative work, from conferences and training sessions to work groups and project management.

The story of Intel's involvement in 3D interface and collaboration technology is actually rather convoluted. To make sense of it all, PC Plus met up with Intel's Cindy Pickering at the recent IDF conference in San Francisco. According to Pickering, it all started in the late 1990s with a project known as Miramar in which Intel Architecture Labs was investigating the use of 3D metaphors as alternatives to conventional, fl at 2D workspaces.

3D Multitasking

The research began by observing how client PC users coped with complex multitasking and then studying the effects of adding a third dimension to the user interface. "Going back and forth between lots of windows introduces a lot of task overhead. Having that third dimension allows you to put things aside in a different way that means they're still visually available, but without dominating the virtual workspace," Pickering explains.

Read the full article here.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Geekend, Backend & Open-end

Orange Geekend.

Trough Ogoglio Trevor Smith's twitter stream I noticed phone company Orange had organised an interesting meeting on Scalability and called it the ‘Orange Geekend’. It was a rather interesting technical update by PhD John Plevyak on scalability. The obvious thing in the future of Virtual Worlds is in cloudcomputing but Plevyak suggested some of its load will go back to the user in peer 2 peer sharing of CPU power. The meeting was interesting, yet a little out of place. It would have sutied better in a natural habitat, like Intel...

Xeon 5148 upgrade for Linden Lab

... but Intel was celebrating a nice new deal as Linden Lab purchased a nice load of new Xeon 5148 servers. Starting February 1 you can upgrade your sim from class 4 to class 5. Upside is you get better performance, downside is rentals go up from $ 195 to $ 295 monthly (US Dollars).

Residents didn't take that rise very well and reacted heavily on the Linden Blog, and dearly want Linden Lab to open the source of the servercode shortly. This will make islands a lot cheaper and will give users and companies alike better opportunities to experiment with Virtual Worlds.

Linden loves Open Source

Linden Lab did react to the user comments by stating:

‘we’d dearly like to open-source the servers’

Which sounds pretty hopefull, but...

‘The big problem is that in the current architecture, servers are trusted. Identity information, ownership information — all that is stored on the servers, and in a closed-source, behind-the-firewall environment, we can communicate between the servers securely. Trust, identity, connectedness — all of these are huge problems.’

However, I've already seen infrastructure designs that would make this possible. The plan is on the table, so please don't hesitate to make it happen.


(The Grid Now - Tao Takashi)


(The next Grid - Tao Takashi)

... we'll have to be patient though. I remember Linden Lab's Joe Miller stating that Second Life has no future as long as there's only one company controlling the grid. Outsourcing or Opensourcing seems to be question for Linden Lab as it is said that Linden Lab does want to open up its sourcecode --but only to a select group of companies (often mentioned names include Google and IBM).

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

25% of Global top 100 in SL

In June I wrote 30% of Dutch Top100 corporations in Virtual Worlds, listing the top Dutch companies in Second Life. Earlier this month though SLionheads' Timbo Urbanowicz did the math on the global top 100 companies.



Based upon the Top 100 Global Brands Scoreboard he checked to see which companies were in Second Life and concludes 20% of these Global brands have a presence in Second Life:

"Interbrand takes many ingredients into account when ranking the value of the
Best Global Brands. Even to qualifyfor the list, each brand must derive at least
a third of its earnings outside its home country, be recognizableoutside of its
base of customers, and have publicly available marketing and financial data. "


1. Coca Cola

2. Microsoft

3. IBM

6. Toyota

7. Intel

10. Mercedes-benz

13. BMW

18. Cisco

25. Sony

29. Nike

31. Dell

42. Philips

43. Siemens

44. Nintendo

52. MTV

62. Amazon

69. Adidas

76. Reuters

81. ING

98. Nissan




Missing on this list are apple (33), SAP (34), eBay (48), Accenture (50) and BP (84) though, so it's closer to 25%.



Some, like Coca Cola and SAP only hold a small spot in Second Life, others such as IBM have a multble island presence and others (like eBay and BP) are still under cosntruction.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Intel Inside

I wasn't really planning on doing a long post, since it's past bedtime here in the Netherlands. Yet I really had to do this one. I've already mentioned the Intel island yesterday and I just have to show some more pics.

The island is created by Millions of Us, who've done several gigs for Intel. This one is one I particularly like. Intel's USP is of course the Dual Core processor. This "Core" theme is worked out very nicely in this sim in an almost Jules Verne kind of journey to the center of the earth.
Basically the sim is build up by levels:
0 Surface
-1 Conference
-2 Main Stage
-3 Core


The last picture is one taken inside the conference area which seems completely lost, but attractive in its own bombastic sense.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

The Heart of Intel

Today Intel advances more in Second Life as it opens up another 3 sim build. April 30th I already spotted 9 island under construction, so this will be an ongoing process I think.
"Today, Intel (in cooperation with MRM Worldwide and Millions of Us) will be unveiling the consolidated Intel presence in Second Life known as Intel Island. At the heart of this 3-sim build, including the previously launched Intel OCC (Intel’s partnership sim with Orange County Choppers) and Intel Software Network, is what we like to refer to as “the journey.”

Read the full release story on the Millions of Us blog

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Friday's Geekmeet: IBM-Intel-Sun

Friday's the night of the weekly Geek Meet at the home of Metaversed's 57. This weeks turned out to be übergeekmeet.

This first pic show me and Aleister sitting next to epradator, aside from us, and 57 we saw several other bloggers and journalists appear at the meeting, all curious to see what the übergeeks of IBM, Intel and Sun would have to say.
Here's a full wrap up of the crowd, filled with the Geeks, the guru's and the metapolitans.

Epradator, one of Second Life's big chieftains, heading the IBM tribe which has grown to about 6.000! members, blogger at the famous eightbar blog was to kick off the meeting giving us some inside information on wtf IBM is doing inside SL. Well, that's easy. Ian (epradator) works for the IBM CIO office, and is responsible for moving 330K people into a virtual workspace;

"the subject is using the metaverse for business and what are we up to that is not Second Life. Firstly I have to say that SL has been the catalyst for all this, many of us have tried to get things like this going for years so we are not in any way not supporting SL, but.... there is a need for corporates to be able to have secure intranets and on those intranets there is a willigness to have a metaverse now. Still some resistence of course but most of the time I get asked 'right can we have a secure meeting?' whereas it used to be 'what the heck are you up to playing games at work'. So we have moved from a skunkwork project with Algernon Spackler and I to a digital convergece emerging business unit"

IBM's ideal situation would be to create some unified communication standard between various metaverses;

"The trick then is to deal with the flow between all these virtual worlds, the underlying standards. So I think its fair to say we are less interested in building another SL, more interested in having more than one platform to then get talking to one another, dealing with property flow between the environments helping with open standards"

The second speaker was Parviz Peiravi (a.k.a. Core Stine), Intel's evangelist but SL newbie, and thus running only a short story on virtualisation;

"I think if we run SL on virtual infrastructures utilizing both virtualization and grid we will be able to handle much more audience."

Third speaker was Klaatu Niu, a Sr. Systems Engineer from Sun, who mainly tried to propagate Sun's networked.com to a crowd of SL addicts, so that was a little queer.

"What we at Sun have done is make avail to the public a large scale computational grid for anyone to run jobs on... Today.. its a batch oriented environement. but you pay only $1 US per CPU hour consumed we also allow you to publish for others to run .. and use your own applications there.. what I think . might be interesting. and something that I'm begging to investigate is ..can an SL object.. submit to our grid some processing needs and get the results back."

To the metapolitans present it wasn't a quick win, someone was quick to point out that Amazon's EC2 cloud only runs at $ 0.05 /hr and that large scale projects, such as Jerry Paffendorf's innovative Destroy Television experiment, streaming 99,000 pictures from SL to Flickr turned out to be quite expensive.

Most interesting point is that Sun tried hard to steer away from rumours over the alledged virtual world project codenamed MPK20.

I think it is pretty safe to say that Intel and Sun are still seeking a way into web 3D but still remain deeply rooted in the era of the Digerati, whereas IBM surely has moved on to the Metarati age.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A closer look at Intel

After the press conference finished (about 10 SLT or 19.00 CET) I had to relog since I'd frozen and couldn't move. My SL Client was pushing my (intel CPU) to the limits. Here's a few screeners from the sim:

These two small thumbs are about the whole story. The sim isn't a fancy build. It has the following features:
  1. Development Room
  2. Showcase
  3. Conference Area
  4. Sandbox

The larger buildings are for conferencing and showcasing, smaller stands are to get the community involved, through blogs and movies. Honestly I liked Intel better at the OCC or the Live without Boundaries sims which had gotten my hopes up for this one.

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Intel's new HQ

Today's the day of a new Intel sim opening up. At exactly 9.a.m (18.00 C.E.T.) the sim will open up with a press conference. In april I reported that Intel geared up with several new sims being under construction, and before that I've blogged on the OCC and Live without Boundaries theme sims by Intel. First on the spot today were the gang from Things to Do., rallying at the New Business Horizon sim.

Right after we went over to the Intel site, which was soon filled to the brim with 53 people.

We were urged to find a seat, but many of us didn't dare move a hair with this visitor load. From the press comes a nice pun that Intel believes itself to be part of the "core of Second Life" and they see SL as "a wonderfull place to explore and engage" and so on.


The sim is build by Millions of Us and will act as Intels new virtual HQ.

update 18:45 CET 9.45 SLT

According to Intel's General Manager "Second Life is not the ultimate environment, but it's a start" Oh, yeah, they're still talking about getting the Developer community involved and "Help shape the future". I guess I'm not really a press conference type of guy, but it's very rude to slip away. Hope to get to do some networking in a bit.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Intel%20Software%20Network/156/83/90

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

nVidia to share Intel

The Digitimes reports that Intel and nVidia are joining forces in a tech trade. This rewires the rumours from late 2006 that both companies are looking for a way to counter the AMD-ATi combination.

Several stories float about that Intel is working on a high-end videocard, which puts them in competition with nVidia's budget gpu's AND high end models, so nVidia needs to pay close attention to which intel they're sharing.


All nice bizztalk, but what's in it for us? Well, Second Lifers surely will give new, stronger, faster (and affordable) graphic cards a very very warm welcome, as streaming is getting a nuisance sometimes.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

SLUC: Intel gears up

Second Life Under Construction


After crossing the metaverse back and forth today, my eyes are really tired and I can't make sense nor sensibility from some of the things I''ve seen today. However, one thing that is clear is that Intel is gearing up. After Live without boundaries and Intel Ignites OCC there's a new Intel sim under construction in the Millions of Us archipelago.
But it doens't stop there! A new cluster is emerging...they're up to something...
Then there's SMI coming next to SUN and around Sheep Island there are a few interesting signs too, like Baseball, Bridge International to name just a few new projects.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Intel makes worlds collide

Intel® Centrino® Duo makes virtual and real worlds collide.October 12-15, 2006

"Can’t live without your laptop? In a 72-hour experiment Intel showed how the power of Intel® Core™2 Duo processors enable you to live life without boundaries. World-renowned virtual builder, Versu Richelieu (inset), created a new masterpiece in the Second Life virtual landscape, using the power and performance of an Intel® Centrino® Duo based laptop featuring the Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor. The world’s best mobile processors1. For 72 hours Versu ate, slept, and lived a completely digital life…all in a store window in New York City!"

The Live Without Boundaries sim still stands though isn't a spectacle anymore. It is a good build, with the Empire State Building towering above the clouds. Intel's strategy on SL is starting to interest me. They've got their usual - ordinary business sim, but rather than staying in one spot they're doing branding with several themes, like this sim and the OCC one blogged earleir today.

It's the event that counts, that draws and as long as the name Intel sticks, it works. And like the OCC thing, Intel sticks to Millions of Us for great builds.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Live%20Without%20Boundaries/105/101/83

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Lordfly ignites Intel and Orange County Choppers

"Wow do I feel obsolete" Well, Lordfly, let me reassure you, you're not.

I just visited the sim called "Intel Ignites OCC", build by our own Didge. The build is excellent and recognisable. In the Netherlands I occasionally watch the OCC programme on Discovery channel and some things look very familiar. The sim itself is a promotion for an OCC bike driven by Intel tech.
Everything in this sim is very detailed, the workbenches, the wheels and the engines at the assembly table.

As for fun and games, there's a racetrack on the sim, an assebly area and some promotion areas with streaming media.

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