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Tellstream as I will be referring to it in my research is a company that runs an online radio station. Its sole purpose is to entertain its audience and provide a base for independent and or related business to advertise on their website. What makes this organisation different from other radio stations is that it is hosted online and a platform has been built for the users to interact with the Djs. A chat room is run in-sync with the live shows and the users of the chat service are given the opportunity to make requests and or interact with musical artists who come as guests on the show.
Recently Tellstream has decided to enhance their chat room and incorporate 3D instant messaging. This service will be available to registered users only as the users will be required to build an avatar of themselves and login in with the same credentials every time they use the chat room. My research will be focusing on investigating the tools and platforms available to enable the integration of the newer technology into the old and thus improving the structure and end-product (i.e. the chat room).
Ever since Tellstream has been founded they have vastly improved their services and have been keeping up with the rapid technological advancement. In the past they were physically based in the United Kingdom but have now expanded to other locations throughout the world.
The interactive chat service they used was initially run on small servers but as time went on the chat servers required upgrading due to the increase in the number of people using the service. Other communication services like Skype have also been integrated into the interactive radio services and listeners can call the Doss through this service of which the conversation will be aired at the given time. Technical support is also provided to those listeners who use their mobile devices to stream and or chat online. Mobile phones and handheld devices that are popular at the moment include I-phones, Blackberry and HTC phones of which technical support is readily available to enable the online interaction.
My plan is to focus mainly on the research part of this particular subject as the time is very short to be building a fully functional product. However, based on the existing infrastructure and the available tools, I will be looking at the services provided when the company was founded and making an assessment on how to incorporate newer technology to enhance the existing business goals.
Review the structure of the main page
The existing system comprises of a main webpage which allows users to choose the appropriate links to the services of their choice. A brief review of the platform it is built on and any improvements or problems it has will be carried out.
Review the current interactive chat
Currently the interactive chat works well but users streaming from handheld devices or uncommon browsers require plug-ins and extra software applications to log in to the services. A review will be carried out on which technology is being used to enable this service and any improvement that could be accommodated by the proposed system.
Analyse the current technology
An analysis will be done on which technology is being used to run all the services of Tellstream which include online radio, interactive chat rooms, advertisements and many other services. Integrating the 3D features will be the main basis of this research and on this phase, a thorough investigation will be done to determine the feasibility of the new ideas.
Build the plan on the proposed Chat room enhancement
Construct a prototype of the proposed 3D chat room. Using the development tools I have available, a prototype will be build to symbolize the look of the finished product. Given the timescale of the project, the prototype might not be fully functional as so many tools will be required to integrate it into the existing features of the system.
Lecture courses taken that are directly relevant to Project
NCC Modules Business and Information Technology modules
Greenwich University Modules
Hardware and software required
Web Design Tools
Web Server services
Autodesk 3ds max
Chat room design software
-Microsoft Office (Word) - Documentation
Web Browsers and Internet Access
Adobe After effects
Maxon Cinema 4D
0000hrs - 0100hrs Read Desktop material
0100hrs - 0200hrs Read Literature Reviews and take notes
0200hrs - 0300hrs Draft Chapters
Break till 0400hrs
0400hrs - 0500hrs Chapters Analysis
0600hrs - 0700hrs Chapters Design
Break till 0800hrs
Start off by explaining the difference between animation 3D and stereoscopic 3D, how people confuse the two.
Introduction: What is a Chat Room?
Chat rooms are in the real world every parent's worst nightmare as it is perceived to be the media that encourages cyber bullies and sexual predators that mainly target young children. Adults on the other hand use it as part of a "Second life" in which they act out their fantasies through the internet by creating and portraying their personas in electronic form. A chat room is basically a web site that provides an online meeting place of users with common interests from different physical locations. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chat_room ).
Upgrade from Text based to 3D
Online chat is a form of communication through sending and receiving of instant text messages which is in real time, and over the years the format of chat rooms have been enhanced to graphical environments as well which are more visual. This enhancement thus highlights the employment of 2d and 3D technology. The main feature of these technologies is the use of graphic representations of the users through the use of avatars.
An avatar unlike 2D graphics is a computer user's representation of themselves in the form of a three dimensional model which can be manipulated to convey some emotion and actions.
3D vs. Stereoscopic 3-D
The use of a model to represent one's self makes 3D chat rooms a chat environment revolving some kind of fantasy which is arguably a major feature of virtual interactions
It has be made clear from the start 3D animation is not the same as Stereoscopic 3-D. Stereoscopic 3-D is a technology which is used mostly in film making and cinemas and it makes film watching a lot more realistic as the motion pictures are brought very close to the viewers through the use of special projection 3-D glasses that provides an illusion of depth when watching a film.
Tellstream User Hierarchy
However even though it can be argued that 3D animation and chat rooms revolve around a fantasy of users with common interests meeting up, Tellstream chat rooms are a lot more realistic as they involve live interactions with other users and mainly with the Djs. Chat room users are usually equal and by that I mean they will have the same privileges and are thus equal. Tellstream however has got a hierarchy setting where the DJ's, the webmaster possess administrative rights and the listeners will have standard users credential and are therefore below the administrators in the hierarchy.
In general, chat room users can become any person they wish to portray but Tellstream is a much more realistic environment and encourages people to be who they really are in real life. Some of the talk shows encourage the users to connect through Skype and their conversation
Other Services Incorporated
Even though the Tellstream Chat room is the main mode of communication between Djs and chat room users, other social network sites are used as well to channel any kind of information to the internet radio listeners and other parties. These sites include Facebook, Twitter, My Space just to name a few. An online trend has developed over the years to incorporate these sites and therefore attract more listeners and/or customers depending on who is using them. Tellstream Chat room however has incorporated Skype into their broadcasting services and it is used to chat to calling listeners through the Voice chat feature. Silent listeners however do not engage in any conversations be it in the Chat room or through Skype.
When discussing virtual worlds, the 3D environment comes to mind but other technologies like Voice over IP should not be overlooked. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_over_IP) Voice over IP protocols are basically rules that guide the delivery of voice communications over the internet and Skype network is the major service provider of which Tellstream has incorporated in their Chat room and online streaming services.
Chat room society
Chat rooms in general are known to have an age group division in a way as adults tend to separate themselves from teen chat rooms. Contrary to those categories, Tellstream does have a family-like community which accommodates all ages but mostly adults as some of the music that is listened to contain parental advisory lyrics. The behaviour of the Tellstream chat room users gives one a rough idea of the dominant age group as most people enjoy shows like "retro Mondays" which streams old reggae music. Most users use certain catch phrases and choose certain names, and this will hint any outsider as to what kind of personalities are in the chat room. An upgrade to a 3D environment might however change the behaviour of the audience as younger listeners might be encouraged to tune in as they enjoy accessorising avatars rather than just listening to the music.
3D related Web Applications (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0)
Generally website users can only passively view web pages that were created for them without actually making any kind of interaction. However as far as the 3D technology is involved the use of Web 2.0 applications make web browsing a lot more interactive and there is a lot of user generated content as well. This approach allows users to have more control over the tasks they are carrying out and a combination of other technologies like VOIP and the use of Avatars will make Tellstream chat room the ideal 3D environment.
History and Expansion
As Tellstream has now been in existence for five years, technology has also changed and improved over the years. When Tellstream was founded, they had the most basic chat room which was purely text based. As the online radio expanded and more and more listeners tuned in, the chat servers also had to be upgraded to cater for the rapid expansion. It later upgraded the chat room and could now cater for 2D computer graphics. The involvement of well known musical artists and "word of mouth" has been the most influential drivers of Tellstreams' rapid expansion. Even though Tellstream is set up to cater for the worldwide audience new technology will only make it much easier to create more opportunities for the online radio station.
Tellstream radio station is not basically a profit making firm and it relies heavily on generous donations from its listeners for funds to maintain its services. However in future, their business goals could change as the firm expands and experience the global market competition. This implies that by upgrading to newer technology they will be prepared for any competitors that may cross their paths as they will be a step ahead at all times.
Allowing users to sign up for membership could be a way of establishing regular donors for the Tellstream radio station. Advertisers as well can pay to have their banners put on the main website as a way of generating income for the business. It is very important that the radio station makes income as the radio station is accessible worldwide and is constantly on to cater for listeners in different parts of the world. So the servers that support listeners' chat room are always on and on the other hand so is the radio streaming services. Therefore administrators and Djs are expected to be working round the clock from different parts of the world.
IM Vs other Computer Mediated Communication
The creation of the Tellstream chat room was inspired by the fact that it is interactive in its nature. There is other ways of relaying messages on the internet but in most circumstances messages could be delivered instantly but the reply could not be as prompt as the sender would want it to be. Emails forums and newsgroups are amongst many of these ways but chat rooms stand out since the recipient of any message will be readily available to make an instant response to any message send to them. The Djs of tellstream are however connected to the instant messaging clients and are in real time playing the music and interacting with the listeners as well. To say multi-tasking will be made easy in a 3D environment that is a fact still to be proven.
Platform Independence RMI
http://www.mpi-inf.mpg.de/resources/FAM/ facial animation
http://download.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/rmi/overview.html remote Method Invocation