We see so many different collaboration tools that at times if feels like we are looking at the same environment over and over again.
Proton Media is entirely different. It is the most advanced collaboration environment we have seen in the market. We say this without hesitation.
The team at Proton have created a virtual world that includes application sharing; collaboration with 2D and 3D environments; video; 3D avatars; chat; VOIP; simulated environments and a social network that leverages the knowledge of the different users.
Customers may pick from a variety of templates to pick their corporate worlds. They may get people together in a virtual conference room to do game shows for teaching purposes.
British Petroleum has used Proton's environment to replace an annual event they did in Chicago every year. Previously, 3,000 people would fly in to Chicago for leadership training. Now they use Proton Media's technology to do the training over a five to six week period.
Proton Media is a true social application that transcends the two-dimensional aspects of most social technologies. This is not to say that it necessarily replaces existing applications. But it has proven to be a replacement for web conferencing environments which have historically been defined as collaboration applications.
We see three tiers to the collaboration space. All have merit and fit with the enterprise in a host of different ways.
The first tier are the wiki-style players that evolved out of the time when portals ruled the corporate sphere. They may include an activity stream but are dominated by their roots in the wiki world.
In the second tier are the profile-based and activity stream based applications that come right out of the Facebook age.
Proton Media represents the third tier. It is an "always on," environment with virtual presence that integrates a whole array of social features and different forms of media. It has applications in such areas as e-learning, communications, knowledge transfer.
Is it too much for most companies? Perhaps but the familiarity with 3D environments does give people comfort.
In a demo today, CEO Ron Burns showed a place in the virtual world or "protosphere," where we could view the way a heart works to better illustrate the effects that diabetes has on people.
In another part of the tour, he showed how a customer support center works in a 3D world. The avatars sit at desks where they are answering customer service calls via VOIP. Each person sits in a zone that is marked by a circle. In the circle, a manager can listen to the customer support call. Outside the circle, people may converse but the conversation is not heard by the people doing customer.
We collaborated on a spreadsheet. If we were using Sharepoint, the document would would appear in the 3D world on what Proton calls "carousels." It would also be updated from within the Sharepoint folder.
If we wanted to talk outside the medium of an avatar, we could have turned on our webcams in a live, video format within a 3D environment.
Proton Media is an animated collaboration environment without all the fantasy trappings of an environment like Second Life. In Second Life, you meet dancing lions as often as beautiful women with long tiger tails. In the protosphere, it's perhaps not as colorful but it suits the corporate world.