IBM has launched Sametime 3D, a new virtual world product aimed at businesses.Employees will be able to 'meet up' in a choice of prefabricated meeting spaces to exchange ideas or presentations, according to IBM."Avatars can make presentations to one another, socialise, debate or literally examine ideas and 3D objects from all angles," said IBM.A demonstration of Sametime 3D on YouTube shows how IT departments could use the tool to demonstrate how technology works. The video shows an IBM team examining a virtual datacentre.Reusable meeting spaces will include a cinema-style amphitheatre and a boardroom. The demonstration shows the host of the meeting choosing the type of room, and then sending a meeting request to his colleagues or business partners. IBM said that colleagues not wishing to participate in a given virtual meeting can still view documents and presentations from the session.Big Blue has been marketing Sametime 3D since last year, and plans general availability by the second half of 2009. It plans to test the software tool with a selection of clients in the meantime.The tool uses version 8.0 of IBM's Lotus Sametime, and a plug-in for virtual worlds designed by IBM Research.When the software is developed fully, clients will be able to connect any number of virtual worlds, such as OpenSim or Second Life, according to IBM.The company added that future plans include ways for participants to circulate reports to one another that document a meeting's progress. IBM will also make it easier for users to chat verbally, as well as to exchange information generated by and for virtual meetings using traditional software already installed on their computers and servers.IBM uses virtual worlds internally to host events, and gained a reputation for being a leader in the space after hosting a number of large conferences on Second Life.
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