Here's an interesting news snippet that came out today -- a Michigan ad agency helped create a customer hospitality and business center at NPE 2009 by using the online 3D virtual world Second Life. The customer was Dow Chemical Co., and the ad agency was the Scott & Miller Group, a business-to-business communications firm. The agency built a virtual replica of the 36,000-square-foot ballroom, including walls and furnishings, and it applied a variety of graphic themes to see which ones worked best. Clients were able to login to Second Life and, using avatars, walk freely around the virtual room to evaluate the layout and design. The "real" Dow customer center at McCormick Place and included meeting rooms, workstations, e-kiosks, lounge and dining areas, and a full bar. Creating the space in Second Life helped the companies work out all the bugs and maximize the layout and design of the exhibit. According to Greg Baldwin, Dow Basic Plastics communications manager, the virtual 3D ballroom was an invaluable tool. "When you're working in such a large space, it's difficult to predict every nuance that will impact the look, feel, and functionality of the room -- color choices, deciding where graphics are needed and where they aren't, or even arrangement of dining tables. I was able to log-in to the virtual customer center any time and feel confident about the final decisions," he said in a news release. "When I first arrived at the actual customer center, my reaction was 'I've been here before,'" Baldwin said. "There were absolutely no surprises, for me or executive leadership." Dow said it hosted nearly 1,137 customers at the "real" center during NPE week. It makes you wonder, how close are we to the day when trade shows are replaced by virtual shows, and we'll all be using avatars for our travel and business meetings?
Using virtual software to create real spaces
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