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Animated Reality and Web Conferencing

In-person meetings are the most effective way to communicate and collaborate, as they integrate both verbal and non-verbal communication. High-definition video conferencing is the next best thing, but these systems are expensive and not available everywhere. Thus Web conferences are typically used for collaboration among remote teams. The challenge with Web conferencing is it lacks the interaction that person-to-person meetings offer, which lowers its effectiveness.

Animation combined with web conferencing is a sensible alternative. It does not require expensive equipment or outrageous bandwidth. Imagine using a web conferencing platform that supports:

* Avatars--Picture a virtual conference room with each person represented by their chosen character. A change in color could denote who is talking, who is sneaking off to check their email, or who would like to speak next.

* Virtual Profiles--Drag your pointer over another attendee's avatar and learn their work history, current projects, job title, expertise, contact information, and hobbies.

* Real Time Feedback--Provide feedback--without interrupting or speaking--via an animated cue. Avatars could translate body language, allowing attendees to engage in crucial non-verbal communication as well as a verbal dialogue.

Platforms such as Second Life might be overkill and too distracting for the business world. After all, the objective of web conferencing animation is to increase collaboration without adding distractions. That said, by integrating key components of virtual reality we could vastly improve the effectiveness of the next generation of web conferencing.