Louise Mäkitie works for the Research & and Outcomes department for a non-profit company that examines public spending. Mark Ajeti, an analyst in the department recently showed her some data that showed some new trends. As the data involved several factors, it was hard to see the trends in the Symphony Spreadsheet, but when it was able to import it into Second Life and stand amongst it in 3D they became clear. She was determined to show this data at her upcoming presentation.Since the data was most compelling when viewed in 3D, Louise decides she wants to do the whole presentation in Second Life. Many customers that he has presented to previously complained about early adopters presenting in Second Life. They felt that viewing a 2D presentation in 3D added little but hype to the experience. However she had installed a plugin to Lotus Symphony that would make it a true 3D experience.Louise edits her presentation in Symphony and adds in various places 3D "hints". Some are trivial, such as mapping an animation of a rotating question mark to a 3D representation. Some enhance the information visually, such as adding particle effects. Others are fundamental, such as indicting on a slide to include Mark's 3D graph. When pushed into 3D the plugin, by default, will upgrade what elements it can to make the experience more 3D. Bullets becomes actual spheres, bold text, literally, stands out from the page, and pie charts grow out from the page proportional to their values.When Louise is satisfied she chooses to export her presentation to Second Life. When complete, she is given a list of additional assets that need to be uploaded. The flat presentations her customers complained about required you to upload a graphical image for each slide presented. The Symphony plugin actually constructs each slide as a collection of 3D objects, so individual pages don't need to be uploaded. However images unique to this particular presentation, for example some 2D graphs, does need to be uploaded. She is presented with a list, the total cost (Linden Labs charges L$10 for each image uploaded) and asked to approve. If she does so, the client connects programmatically and uploads the images for her. Their reference numbers are added to an internal database. The system is already aware of all images that have been used previously, such as company logos, profile pictures, or clip art, can be reused without cost.Louise then switches tabs in his Symphony Environment to an embedded Second Life viewer supplied by another plugin. The Head's Up Display his Second Life avatar is wearing indicates the new presentation along with any other presentations she has available for viewing. She selects the new presentation and the slides are constructed before her.When it is finished she has a number of options. First she collects them together into a presentation box. When activated, this will display each three dimension slide in series. This is a handy way for self viewing, or for passing to another avatar for review. Since this is new and topical information, she instead decided to make this part of their company's virtual presence. She drops the objects into the "presentation of the day" area in their build.This creates, basically, a long corridor. Each stop along the corridor shows a slide. Someone viewing the presentation walks along the corridor, through each slide in turn. Louise intend to use this to present the data. She will take a group of avatars down the path. At each slide she will stop and speak to it. Since her audience is capable of independent movement, she will watch them and see what slides they linger on, and which ones they skip past. Using this she can tailor her presentation to the interest level of her audience.Feasibility
This scenario is mostly implementable today. Symphony is easily extendable with the menus. Hits can be encoded into speaker notes. The data format is open and easily readable. I already have a fairly crude servlet that converts slide text to prims. Adding in an embedded Second Life viewer is no harder than embedding it in a browser, which has already been done. Automatically uploading images is a little more tricky. This is possible today with libSecondLife. Embedding the whole mono based libSecondLife environment into a Eclipse based plugin can be done, but it isn't very optimal.On the Second Life side, everything described can be done. One issue is prim count. I estimate the average slide would take 100-200 prims and for a 30 slide presentation, having all of them displayed at once would be rather resource consuming. However, one slide at a time is more economical, or having a walkway where they are only displayed if someone is near is another way to mitigate this.I would estimate it would take about 160 programming hours to implement this integration. No special knowledge is required. All the information for Symphony integration is in the published SDK and Eclipse manuals. Second Life scripting is public knowledge and the client is open source.Business Case
Presentations are one of the most common business uses for Second Life. To date these are almost exclusively 2D presentations in a 3D world and the value is debatable. Such a system as this has clear advantages over the existing one, but may be still short of completely compelling. The best use this makes of the medium is the ability for groups to self-organize, cocktail party like, in a 3D world. As with Louise in the walk-through, she can gauge interest by where people congregate. In a display setting, those consuming the media can see who else is consuming it, and they have the chance to interact or collaborate on items of common interest.