Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Sametime and IBM Research showing how to put a UC platform into action


On the heels of recent work IBM Research did around integrating Sametime within virtual 3D environments, two more IBM Research projects continue to hint at the power of Sametime as a true platform for unified communications and collaboration.  What is common to these three projects is the use of open APIs to both surface communications capabilities in other applications as well as integrate those applications into the Sametime Connect user environment.  Thanks to IBMer Jeff Pierce for bringing this to my attention :-)

The first project is about unified communications across devices.  Basically the concept is providing an infrastructure that allows multiple devices to be aware of each other to faciliate cross-device communication and end-user management, while being application-agnostic.  It's more than just data synchornization; it's also about sending commands and events across devices.  A Sametime plugin is used as the integration point.  

One of the opening statements of the project caught my eye:

"A user purchasing a new computer can configure it with relative ease to serve as either a shared (e.g. among family members) or personal computer. However, current computing devices provide users with little or no support for interacting across a collection of multiple personal devices. The user of that new computer, for example, has no mechanism to inform it of the identities of the other computing devices he employs."

Until early last year I would have (irritatingly) agreed wholeheartedly.  But Apple's MobileMe and Microsoft's LiveMesh have finally brought the cloud capability to help end-users organize data across multiple devices.  They're still mainly about data synchronization, and still a "client-server" model -- in the case of Apple, iTunes or the MobileMe cloud still act as the "server" and each device as a "client".  The IBM research goal is both to extend the concept beyond data to commands and events, and to make that capability device-to-device (peer-to-peer, if you will).

Another project IBM Research project involving Sametime is Play by Play, which is about supporting collaborative web browsing.  A Sametime plug-in is being developed.  Essentially you're using instant messaging as a way to share actions, not just typed text -- this is the page I'm visiting, this is where I clicked, replay my actions, resynch your actions, etc. and not just tell your buddy what you're doing (or done) but replicate the action on my screen / application.  Whereas Sametime already allows you to share screens live visually and record it for playback (and this is only going to get easier and better in Sametime 8.5 coming soon), Play by Play "atomizes" the individual steps and translates them into text.  I can see this being useful for visually-impared users for example, or for court reporters, or mobile devices.

What about your examples?  Are there any research projects you're working on that embed real-time communications capabilities?