Monday, December 21, 2009

James Cameron's Avatar shows parallels to immersive virtual worlds for business


It has been a word we have been using for awhile now to describe an anthropomorphized human network connection in an immersive virtual environment. However, the traditional definition is as follows:

In Hinduism, Avatar or Avatara describes the descent of a deity from heaven to earth. In English, we translate avatar to mean "incarnation," "appearance," or "manifestation." And for us computer nerds, we have known avatars as representations of ourselves or our alter egos. It could be in the form of a 3-D model, 2-D icon, or text construct as found in early online gaming.

I think after this weekend, the word will be more broadly understood by the masses, as James Cameron's new movie, "Avatar", opened across the country. Being a CGI (computer-generated imagery) fan from jump street, I of course had to go day one. How was it? In a single word, stunning. Go see it in a properly equipped digital theater, with the funky 3-D glasses, and you will be "immersed."

(A side note to Intel: Would you please hurry up with faster processors, so we 3-D software guys can throw higher poly models into our designs? I would like an extra hundred gig or two of video RAM on the standard corporate desktop PC, so that our real-time environments can start to approach the standard here. ;-))

The interesting thing about this movie for me was not just the graphics, but the story. As we have tried to explain the value of immersive 3-D environments to our customers, one of the things we have been talking about is how users (avatars) carry with them a "tag cloud" of relevant information. In the case of a ProtoSphere user, each avatar has an associated user profile, blog, wiki; and affiliations with different team blogs and wikis as part of his/her collaborative knowledge network.

In Cameron's movie, the indigenous Na'vi people actually connect to their "world" biologically. The planet they live on is a biological network, where information is distributed. The overall intelligence of the system is based on the number of connections. It is exactly this kind of knowledge network effect that we think immersive, always-on virtual "worlds" provide to organizations.

If you look through the discussions on this blog about what will be the next generation collaboration and online meeting environments, a key point has been how time-bound 2-D meeting platforms don't have the always-on persistence of an avatar-based world. In fact, in most current generation collaboration and meeting tools, the data is the center of focus, not the human.

An avatar-based collaboration medium give us an opportunity to organically connect the right people and the right data together at exactly the right moment, to make optimal decisions. Much as the Na'vi people have always done.

Or as they say in the Na'vi language, Tsun oe nga-hu nì-Na'vi pivängkxo a fì-'u oe-ru prrte' lu. (It’s a pleasure to be able to chat with you in Na’vi.)

1 comment:

r4i software said...

There are myriad moments of beauty and of poignancy. And the final battle is worth the price of your 3D glasses alone.

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