|Our very first televirtuality prototype. It
dates back to mid-1993, actually, which is long before there ever was any talk of VRML
etc. It really is Mr. Stig Fagerborn, Director of the strategy dept. of Ericsson Business
Networks at that time, who has to be credited for having the courage to let us produce a
prototype of our vision for a highly user-friendly interface to on-line commerce and the
presence of companies in 3D cyberspace. We were way ahead with this stuff...
The project was realized in one of the early versions of RenderWare, the then revolutionary -and today still amazing- real-time software-based renderer from Criterion Software. In spite of RenderWare's then record-shattering capabilities, we still had to keep our rendering window pretty small. This prototype worked completely as an off-line, single-user stand-alone application.
The prototype showed a town square -featuring trees and a fountain- with around it a collection of shops, services and Ericsson's own office building. Over half of these could be entered: an art shop with some 3D artifacts -like a glass vase and a textured wooden bowl- on display with which the user could interact (and examine the sticker -- some of which were shocking indeed); a bank featuring a working mock-up of an indoor ATM and a travel agency featuring a 3D globe of the Earth through which users could interactively specify and book their trips. Ericsson's office building featured a reception, a water cooler, two furnished meeting rooms and an office supplies & productivity software shop for employees that featured interactively manipulable boxes of the software as well as of the office supplies. A dialog system embedded in the 3D world showed the price of these items and demonstrated how employees might order them.
The prototype was demonstrated with suitable effect to executives and decision-makers throughout Ericsson. The goal was to confront them with one of the shapes of the future of telecommunications. The projected was not followed-up due to Mr. Fagerborn's promotion to still higher responsibilities at another of Ericsson's many companies.
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