Thursday, 8 March 2007

PA Consulting's New Demo Island

I thought you might be interested to see PA Consulting's latest island, PAConsulting2. PA, a leading European IT consultancy, have been in SL for quite a number of months now, their main island predating most of the IBM builds that now seem to be spreading across the map.

Today they opened their second island to public gaze. This one is geared towards showcasing some of the practical uses to which they have put SL. There's basically 4 components: a bank, an airport terminal, a BP service station and a race course (for giant snails). These are linked by a network of delicate walkways. However, if you don't fancy the walk, there is a guided tour, where you are whisked from post to post by a floating armchair while a virtual tour guide points out the features, in a proper English accent. Umm... tough if you don't speak English, since this seems to be the only voiceover currently on offer. Feel free to click on the panels below to read the blurb.

Of the demonstrators, perhaps my favourite is the bank. On entry, you can first select the bank of your choice. Yeah well... so what? Then you can select any one of three different layouts. And this is where it gets interesting, as shapes appear and zoom around you, building the bank to your layout. Don't like it? Go back, and select a different layout. PA say this was used in actual user feedback trials. I had been skeptical about this use for SL, but having seen what they've done, I'm now more convinced (though you will need to do a lot more to convince me that the same will work for retail outlet design).

Anyway, the island shows some genuine innovation in the use of virtual 3D environments, and their application to real world challenges, and I think the site is to be commended. I was less impressed with the other offerings - but then, I only skimmed the place. For example, the crash-bang-wallop! of the bomb going in off in the airport terminal looked eye-catching - but I was not convinced that SL was a sufficiently realistic experience from which to extract much of use in the real world. But then maybe I'm missing the point.

In any case, to round off - here's a few more piccies to enjoy:

Here's me on my guided tour - and the site looks neat in midnight mode too...

NOTE: One small hitch - at the moment you have to be a member of the PA Consulting Guests group. If you're not - get yourself along to the main island and ask very nicely - it's worth the trip!

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