Lotus toys with Sametime features including virtual meetings

Possible graphics option provides a drawing of conference-call participants.

IBM/Lotus will crank up its Sametime lineup this year with two new editions -- plus the company is playing with next-generation features to see where it might take the platform.

At the company's annual Lotusphere conference, Sametime development manager Konrad Lagarde showed off experimental features including a virtual meeting (much like Second Life) that included 3-D avatars representing attendees and presentation graphics on a large movie-like screen.

Lagarde introduced the features with a caveat saying that they may never see the light of day. "You may see some of this in the future and you may not," he told the packed house at a keynote presentation on unified communications.

Lagarde then showed his avatar running to a meeting in a virtual world. Once there, he uses a passcode to take control of the conferencing features in the room before putting up a slide show on a screen. The virtual room also was equipped with softphone voice communications and a whiteboard.

During the presentation, Lagarde text chatted with a participant, also a 3-D avatar, who shows his enthusiasm by jumping up and down.

Lagarde also showed a conference call feature for the Sametime client with pictures of invited attendees arranged around a two-dimensional drawing of a conference table. Those that are already present are shown around the table, while at the bottom of the screen are shaded photos of those who are invited but have not yet arrived.

The interface is intended to give a visual representation of the meeting participants. Within the interface, users have the option to attach files, share their screens and add other tools for use within the client. The interface also includes a timeline that shows who dialed in, when and records text chat.

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