Vendors are vying to lock up rights to the social-enterprise. Here's a selective look at cool patent tech from Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText , and SAP, as well as two surprising newcomers.
Hey, does that "immersive collaborative display" shown in the diagram make you think of Cisco's recently introduced Cius tablet? Maybe these patents aren't so disconnected from products after all. However, the patent application sheds no additional light on any tablet device. Rather, it reads more like telepresence on steroids, or telepresence as Enterprise 2.0 collaboration.
Here's an ambitious description, from the patent's overview section:
"This specification discloses appropriate technology and processes to create the paradigm shift that moves real-life enterprises into the immersive world that was traditionally reserved for three-dimensional (3D) gaming technologies. Essentially, integrated data in an immersive collaboration environment can provide for activating changes in behaviors of persons--awareness is critical to efficiency and productivity. More particularly, the aspects described herein provide for an ability to capture a time-based historical record of activities and actions that occur within a virtual workspace."
2) Vyew: The Collaborative War Room
Here's a patent application from a new company. New to me that is, though not to Henry Hon, the CEO of Vyew, a startup based in Berkeley, Calif. Vyew is actually in the collaboration business, offering an online meeting service billed as "The Collaborative WarRoom [sic]."
Hon's patent application, 20100185733, entitled "System and method for collaborative web-based multimedia layered platform with recording and selective playback of content," appears to be a natural outgrowth of his company's efforts.
For example, the figure I've grabbed from the application could indeed come from an online meeting "war room." It "illustrates an example of synchronizing an annotation of a drawing in a shared space through various input devices in accordance with an embodiment of the invention."
The broader invention, according to the abstract, "relates to a method and system for creating a collaborative file in a shared network including: accessing one or more user machines in a shared space."
The collaborative multimedia technology also focuses heavily on session control and selective recording and playback of content. You be the judge of whether this stuff -- and I don't mean to single out this company's patent application -- is obvious from prior art. That's not really the point. (Because while it might be a point of law, it's not always an impediment to obtaining a patent, and only comes out, if at all, in the litigation wash afterwards.)