Glue takes its virtual collaboration platform to the next level with AI-powered customizable avatars

Kalle Saarikannas
December 8, 2020
  • New highly expressive avatars created in partnership with UK-based facial animation pioneers Rapport

  • New Glue operating system featuring speech-to-text capabilities for more efficient VR use

  • Axel Springer, BCG Platinion, T-Systems and Maillefer among businesses using Glue for their remote collaborations

HELSINKI—DECEMBER 8, 2020—Glue Collaboration, the leader in collaborative, real-time VR software services, today announced a major new release of Glue that enables greater immersion and frictionless interaction for remote teams as they co-create, learn, plan and share.

“Available to all our users today, this is our most significant release so far,” said Jussi Havu, CEO, Glue Collaboration. “Alongside a new operating system with speech-to-text capabilities, we’re introducing our ground-breaking new avatars. Everything adds up to our most immersive VR meetings yet, providing a space for remote workers to effectively collaborate even when they’re thousands of miles apart.”

Glue provides shared virtual environments where dispersed participants can come together as if they were face to face in a real physical space. Appealing to people’s visual, haptic and auditory senses, Glue provides a level of immersion in remote meetings simply not possible with conventional video conferencing software.

Super expressive avatars

In the latest update, Glue introduces its most expressive avatars yet. These leverage artificial intelligence and advanced graphics capabilities to more closely mimic people’s behavior and features. The enhancements are designed to make communication feel as natural as it does in the real world, ensuring users focus on their meeting agenda rather than worrying about adjusting their camera.

To develop the new avatars, Glue integrated new AI-powered facial animation technology. For this, it turned to Edinburgh-based Rapport, a pioneer in facial animation and lip syncing technology that works with some of the world’s leading animation and gaming studios.

“We worked with Glue to enable facial animation that looks as natural as possible and is generated in real-time from audio input alone,” said Gregor Hofer, CEO and Founder at Rapport. “We’re especially delighted with the new Glue avatars as they exhibit a level of expressiveness that makes them highly engaging and compelling.”

Using the new built-in avatar configurator, users can also create their own avatar, adjusting face shape and features, hair and clothing as well as customizing colors. Millions of permutations are possible.

“We let our users choose their own appearance, as Glue is a place where everyone can be themselves,” said Sami Syrjä, Head of Design, Glue. “We have deliberately chosen to use expressive, animated avatars rather than lifelike virtual representations of ourselves. This prevents ‘uncanny valley’, the eerie sensation people experience if a digital representation imperfectly resembles human behavior.”

New features, including speech-to-text input

Running on a new operating system, the new release of Glue comes with a beautiful look and feel as well as a host of new features. New speech-to-text technology lets users say what they want to type. There is a new whiteboard for ideation, now also accessible to non-VR Glue users, as well as a camera that zooms and shoots in the resolution users choose. Glue has also made improvements to the way users manage their teams, files and spaces.

A new virtual space for creative workshops

Glue is expanding the library of ready and customizable spaces that teams can use with a new one called Mont Matiz. This hill-top, open-air space provides users with a relaxing, uncompromising setting for their creative workshops and large events like employee town halls.

More enterprises choosing Glue for virtual collaboration

Axel Springer

Axel Springer National Media & Tech, a unit of media company Axel Springer SE, has been testing immersive virtual meetings with teams in Berlin and Hamburg.

“Glue was benchmarked against other players in the market in several categories, such as avatars, user experience, pricing, business features and how well it would integrate with existing tools,” said Chris Krauß, Senior Product Manager for Immersive Technologies at Axel Springer National Media & Tech GmbH. “We decided to work with Glue for, among other things, its smooth rendering, which helped users feel the most comfortable in virtual space.”

Read more about Axel Springer’s experiences here: https://medium.com/axel-springer-tech/can-vr-cure-home-office-syndrome-df7b4a1d66f6

BCG Platinion

BCG Platinion, a division of The Boston Consulting Group, used Glue for the first time in late October, bringing 50 people together in a virtual space for its Coding Digital Strategies hackathon. The group, which included outside designers, software developers and engineers from several European countries, used Oculus Quest headsets to work in a range of customized, branded Glue spaces for the successful two-day event.

“Glue as a virtual collaboration platform provides us an efficient way to host virtual events with distributed teams,” said Sebastian Ley, Associate Director at BCG Platinion.”

T-Systems Multimedia Solutions

T-Systems Multimedia Solutions GmbH, a subsidiary of T-Systems International and Deutsche Telekom, has been experimenting with Glue in the areas of agile team collaboration and design review processes that are usually done on 2D screens, turning them into interactive 3D meetings.

“Some things work even better in virtual space than in the real world,” said Rafaela Sieber, Team Lead for AR/VR at T-Systems Multimedia Solutions. “We have been testing the potential of virtual reality for collaboration with avatars for some time now. In scrum or team meetings with up to 20 people, we are now replacing classic telephone conferences. Virtual reality helps to build human closeness and thus communication and trust."

Maillefer

Maillefer, the global leader in wire, cable, pipe and tube production technologies, wanted an efficient way of demonstrating its latest technology to customers. The company now has a set of interactive Glue virtual spaces that provide a cost-efficient and unique setting for its executives and engineers to present technology concepts and production lines and have conversations with customers.

Other enterprises using Glue include Air France-KLM, Fazer, Microsoft and Patria.

Want to experience Glue? You can book a demo here.

Media enquiries

press@glue.work

About Glue

Glue Collaboration (Helsinki, Finland) helps teams around the world to collaborate remotely in more productive and sustainable ways using a cloud-based virtual collaboration platform. Glue provides a true feeling of presence and access to a full set of tools for effective live collaboration in persistent, real-time and fully customizable virtual environments complete with 3D spatialized audio. Our journey began 15 years ago as an award-winning animation, XR and gaming studio and now we are leveraging our renowned Finnish digital craftsmanship to take remote collaboration to the next level.

To learn more, visit www.glue.work.

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