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rich Internet application

Cut to early June, Intelligence Gaming sat in our “fishbowl” conference room, and Jim Cheng, one of our senior ui developers, is wearing a headset listening to an amazing audio clip that includes technology called “binaural audio” – Jim spins around in his chair, as though something loud happened behind him – he screamed out a “WHOOP!, This is awesome!”. As he was listening to the audio, Maikel Sibbald, Jim’s development cohort, was watching a video clip shot with a 360 degree camera. Steve, one of the incredibly smart people behind the RealityV concept from Intelligence Gaming, pulled out a head mounted, LCD display unit and asked “Can you guys combine these experiences into this piece of hardware?” – I told him ” You had me at hello!”

Since then, our team has been pulling crazy hours to combine super high-resolution video, 8 channels of audio into an immersive training experience for the US Army:

The situational awareness training will be delivered to the ARMY in “episodes” this year and is just the tip of the iceberg for the platform. What is really innovate about all of this is that we are using “off the shelf” hardware, including an interactive USB glove that allows participants to interact  with the content while wearing the headset.

If you are lucky enough to be at MAX 2008 this year, we are showcasing the application (you will actually get to put this thing on and test drive it yourself) – Hope to see you there!!

 

you can also read a little more about the application here on TechCrunch: http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/10/14/realityv-revolutionary-virtual-reality-training/

I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Ray Valdez (gartner analyst) this week. He presented an interesting perspective on adoption of RIA technologies by large enterprises.

We started the discussion by asking Ray how he saw us, and how we should communicate our differentiation to the market – we often find ourselves competing with Avenue A one week, and SAP the next – our clients just know where to “put us” : are we an interactive agency or an integration firm (we’re kinda neither and kinda both)… Ray agreed that we are presented with a challenge, especially with large corporate entities.

The challenge is that we are in this weird RIA place right now – some companies are jumping in with both feet with a platform whereas some are taking a “wait and see” approach. Which Platform? Ray believes Adobe currently has about 50% of the RIA market – he said “I’m being asked to help companies decide between Flex and something else – its always 2, and Flex is always one of them”. He also said the vast majority of enterprises are going to be much slower to adopt. He pulled out a napkin and drew a chart that looked something like this:

 

 

Ray Valdez - The RIA Chasm

 

He described Adobe as being in  a very interesting “Sweet Spot” – where users are demanding rich applications at the same time there is only one true player in the space right now. He said either these enterprises are waiting to see how well Adobe’s platform does, or they are waiting to see what their current platform provider (sun, microsoft, ibm) comes up with.

I believe Adobe’s leadership in the enterprise will rest on enterprise’s ability to execute. In other words, if a company sees one or two “wins” (either internally in pilot projects, or from their competition), Adobe will “win” – The challenge is that RIA, and Flex in particular, require development and design teams to think differently than they have been with traditional web deployments. EffectiveUI’s biggest successes have been those where we’ve been asked to “own the deliverable” – and help companies inch into the space. The projects that struggle a bit are those where an internal development team wants to apply their own legacy HTML/Java/C++ methodologies and thinking to an RIA.

Sean Christmann from EffectiveUI has released a benchmark to understand the performance differences between Flex/Flash, Silverlight, and HTML/Javascript….

 

Great for development teams trying to figure out what framework will perform the best for “real-world” RIA use cases.

 

http://www.craftymind.com/2008/05/22/introducing-guimark-an-ria-benchmark-for-flex-silverlight-html-and-more/

Eric Knorr, from Infoworld had a very interesting perspective on the end the browser era:

http://weblog.infoworld.com/editor/archives/2008/05/web_browser_app.html

 

It’s funny how cyclical technology can be. The early days of computing had mainframes and thin clients, then we went to desktop computing. The “Web 2.0” revolution (alright, I’ve succumb to the lingo bingo) is bringing us back to the thin client – now we are talking about the end of the second wave of thin clients – browsers and going back to desktop computing.

 

– I believe that browsers, like the OS, will become less relevant but will never go away. They will simply be a matter of preference. Browsers will always have a purpose – a common GUI framework that is safe (or should I say “safer” than desktop applications).

 

 eBay asked EffectiveUI to build eBay Desktop not as a way to bypass the browser, but as a way to offer eBay’ers a richer, more engaging user experience – an experience that was not possible in a browser. Adobe AIR should be looked at as another tool to create applications that have more utility and purpose – to pick up where the browser leaves off. What is the most critical feature that Adobe AIR gives us? – It is  certainly  not its ability to make a connected desktop application. In combination with Flex, AIR gives us the ability to write once, and deploy anywhere (browser, OS – and soon mobile devises) – this is critical for large enterprises and small start-ups alike. These companies can now consolidate development efforts, focus on “getting good” at a more common, unified development practice, and not worry about cross-platform cross-browser compatibility issues. In other-words, they can now start focusing on more important things, like their customers …

 

 

 

 

 

Adobe, Microsoft, and EffectiveUI have contributed to the launch of a really cool community site, focused on user experience and the new UX technologies. The articles and white-papers are focused more for the business managers… Adobe and Microsoft have contributed some great pieces that talk about the technologies, but geared for the “C-Level Exec” types that are looking for some ammunition to get their company on board with a more user-centric approach to their online business. 

A description from the home page:

Designing an engaging user interface dramatically enhances user experience, increases productivity, drives user adoption, and creates a sustainable competitive advantage. If your organization competes online or relies on mission critical applications, leveraging the latestRIA technologies, such as Adobe® Flex™Adobe® AIR™, andMicrosoft® Silverlight™, is essential to your success.

The User Interface Resource Center (UIRC) provides free articles and White Papers written by industry leaders about user interface design and rich Internet applications (RIAs). From business strategy and implementation to hands-on techniques, this site is packed with valuable content.

My favorite articles so far:

The Age of Experience, by Thomas Lewis from Microsoft

Check Your Ego at the Door, By Lance Christmann =from EffectiveUI

Keep on Keeping Up, by Lynda Weinman from lynda.com

Eye on the User, by Jared Spool from User Interface Engineering

Technology Disrupted (the making of eBay Desktop), by Alan Lewis from eBay

Stealth Mode “Thermo” (an In-depth look ad Adobe Thermo), by Steven Heintz from Adobe

 

I was lucky enough to be interviewed as well for an article:

Chanting New Mantras, the value of rich internet applications

 

In total, there are over 30 articles and white-papers, not bad for a launch. The UIRC is still seeking opinions and insights from community contributions, so if you would like to contribute, here’s the link:

http://www.uiresourcecenter.com/submit-an-article.html?s=6

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