Blogger: Craig Roth
I'm back from Lotusphere and Orlando now and playing reggae to try to trick my brain into forgetting it's -1 degrees here in Chicago. It's not working. I posted a set of blow-by-blow notes from the sessions I attended in my personal KnowledgeForward blog (see Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3) but thought I'd post a summary of my impressions and some of the non-session activities.
Below is a quick report of what I saw at the Innovation Lab at Lotusphere. Three of my interests were represented there: virtual worlds, portals, and globalization.
- There were actually four virtual world projects, the best of which was Bluegrass, which was neat because it shows how virtual worlds can be used as a visualization mechanism for existing data
- Architecture: It runs on Torque rather than Second Life, a good choice for business applications and one I expect to see more of to get away from the quirks of Second Life. Torque does the visual rendering and has client and server components. The client is C++ with a JNI layer that does the bridging between the Torque client and the interface.
- Content: It renders information on development projects from Rational Jazz such as teams, actions taken on components, and repositories. Jazz uses a standard textual IDE to allow access to this information. But Bluegrass acts as an alternate view (I won't say UI since it isn't meant to replace Jazz's UI) to enable better discovery of information, socialization, and brainstorming. Each team is represented as a tree. People are shown as, well, people. When people take an action it shows as a bubble floating up over their heads, like a tweet. One can look around a busy team and see little bubbles (emitters) floating up, kind of like smoke signals. Where there's smoke, there's fire in that project! Actions taken in Jazz have instant effect in the virtual world and vice versa.
- Social aspects: You can enter a brainstorming house where sticky notes can be picked up and moved. This part was ok, but not as cool to me as the rendering of real information in an alternate view.
- Usage: Alas, there isn't a great success story on usage yet. But it is being picked up by a few teams at IBM and hopefully they can show some sort of improvement or ideas that only came about because of Bluegrass
- This project demonstrated usage of pattern recognition to guide the user to pages they might be interested in but not know about, much in the way Amazon makes recommendations.
- It can recommend portlets, people, and pages based on what others in your same role did
- There is a "contextual search" part that results in a custom portal page with the portlets related to that search, such as maybe entering a company name and getting a legal news portlet, financial information portlet, and ERP system data all with info on that company
Real-Time Translation Service
- I thought the coolest thing I saw in the Lab was the Real-Time Translation Service. There were a number of demonstrations of IBM's various forays into translation
- One was an IM plugin. While there are other examples in the industry of 2-way translation to allow IM users speaking different languages to converse, I liked that this one had a dropdown to select the domain of conversation (like helpdesk versus programming), which really helps a translation engine's accuracy
- The speech to speech translation was very good. Well, I guess I can't judge how good considering I don't speak Arabic, but from the textual translation on the screen it seemed to be picking up the spoken English very well. He spoke English into the microphone and a few seconds later smooth-sounding Arabic came out the speaker
- The translation tool was like the speech to speech translation, but supported speakers on both ends and a persistent chat window between them. The demonstration showed speaking in English to someone in Japanese and getting responses back, with the chat window keeping a record of the conversation
- He also showed a shipping product, GALE, that does rapid translation of video feeds. For example, you can watch Al Arabiya and English subtitles appear at the bottom. It is useful even for English since the text is stored with the image and can then be searched to, for example, help a PR agency find every mention of a product on talk shows