15 October 2001
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Intava Corporation, a provider of wireless development applications, last week shipped Intava Gravity v1.0, its multi-platform Web authoring application. The product is designed to let new or existing Web applications to be created for various wireless environments with a single development effort.
Priced at $695 per user, the software is available at http://www.intava.com.
Bitstream last week announced the beta release of its wireless Web browsing technology, code-named "ThunderHawk." The company claims it will let wireless users have a Web browsing experience similar to that on a desktop computer.
The enhancements to the technology, initially announced on June 6, 2001, include:
ThunderHawk relies on a device-independent thin client and a server infrastructure.
Viewpoint Corporation newest version of its Media Player features HyperView, which lets viewers expand rich-media content beyond the browser window to the entire desktop. Examples are available at:
Automotive Advertisement Example:
Product Presentation Example:
The Media Player allows for the integration and interaction of rich-media formats such as Flash, 3D, animation, text, audio, and zoomable 2D graphics.
For developers: Seamless changes from thumbnails to fully zoomable images are now possible. Products in realistic 3D, with Flash movies playing, can now be integrated into existing HTML pages without impacting proven page-layout designs. Viewpoint Experience Technology is free to hobbyist and Viewpoint content developers. Small businesses can deploy VET starting at $1,500 USD.
Global Web Solutions says its new FlashImpressions.com is the first-ever multimedia Website builder from. Users can create a Flash Website by walking through a series of menu choices. The service offers over 700 site designs to choose from; clients can add their own graphics and logos. Packages include unique domain names with corresponding e-mail addresses, Web hosting, search engine submission, content editing and redesign, music and Flash animation, Web cards, guest books, hit counters, and log files.
Eveo, Inc. last week introduced Eveo Publisher 2.0, its Web-based rich-media publishing application. The interface lets users produce, publish and manage custom Web video presentations and emails, integrated and synchronized with other rich media elements. Users can integrate video, text, graphics, slides, audio, Flash, PowerPoint, polling, and other applications.
Eveo Publisher 2.0 is an integrated suite of four applications:
drag-and-drop authoring tool
Eveo Publisher 2.0 is available now as a hosted application (ASP), or through enterprise licensing.
Just out from Western Digital Corp. is a its Caviar 100 GB Special Edition hard drive that uses an 8 MB buffer, said to deliver data to users faster than any hard drive in its class. WD says the new drive provides a higher percentage of cache hits and faster time to data than industry-standard 2 MB versions. This $379 drive is currently available in limited quantities via Western Digital's online store and from OEMs.
Within the complex operations of hard drives, the buffer is used to hold the results of recent reads from the disk, and also to "pre-fetch" information that is likely to be requested in the near future. The use of an increased buffer reportedly improves the performance of the WD drive by reducing the number of physical accesses to the disk and allowing data to stream from the disk uninterrupted by mechanical operations. The 8 MB buffer can also offer an advantage in a server environment, where data typically is accessed across wider portions of the disks. With additional buffer resources, read and write commands are more quickly queued and served to the user.
Remote-i Corporation, a provider of digital media technology solutions, plans to launch a wireless pilot service for Sonera's Mspace pilot customers in Finland later this year. Remote-i's "media browsing" software will reportedly let users simultaneously retrieve and download multiple music tracks, images, or video clips, which play as a cursor is rolled over them. Users can find, evaluate and purchase of digital music, images or videos from wireless PDAs while directing full file delivery to an Internet-connected PC. The service is enabled through Remote-i's digital media exchange (DMX) software engine, providing security, content encryption, digital rights management, integrated billing, multiple payment models, and unified access from multiple devices.
Remote-i's media-browsing technology lets users control how they wish to access and interact with digital media. Music, video and images are available as clips, samples, and complete files, allowing users to evaluate media without requiring a large amount of bandwidth or memory. Users can download a series of five, ten or hundreds of clips that are automatically generated and easily evaluate music tracks or images without waiting for the download of complete files. Users can decide which samples to download for further evaluation, make purchase decisions and download the full media files to the device of their choice, according to the rights assigned to specific files.
"The traditional Internet approach to digital media is simply too cumbersome in a mobile environment and requires innovative technologies to improve the user experience." said Jussi Koski from Sonera Mspace. "There is a great need for hands-on experimentation in interactive mobile multimedia services."
Commented Michael Stennicke, CEO of Remote-i: "The Internet concept of hyperlinks was ideal for text navigation but less suited for the consumption of multimedia. We have developed a set of software solutions that will … enhance the user experience for multimedia entertainment and multimedia communications."
New from CinemaNow Inc., a distributor of feature films over the Internet, is PatchBay, technology solution that can be licensed by distributors to launch Web-based video-on-demand networks. The software is built on the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system, including support for Windows Media Audio and Video and digital rights management.
PatchBay is a business application that manages all aspects of Internet-based video-on-demand distribution, including content distribution, content syndication, digital and territorial rights protection, user profiling, demographically targeted advertising, pay-per-view and subscription services, e-commerce management, report generation, and integration of other third-party components. Content distributed via PatchBay can reach any IP-enabled device, including Windows operating system-based PCs and Macintosh computers, handheld devices and set-top boxes.
Boulder, Col.-based Electric Rain last week released Swift 3D version 2.0, a new version of its $159 standalone application that lets users design and render 3D scenes to the Macromedia Flash (SWF) file format, as well as Adobe Illustrator (AI), EPS, and the XML-based SVG.
Among the new modeling features:
And new rendering capabilities, enabled by the RAViX II rendering engine:
Developer Robert McNeel & Associates has just shipped version 2 of Rhino, perhaps the highest-regarded (only?) stand-alone NURBS modeler around. New features include:
For details, visit http://www.rhino3d.com/whatnew2.htm.
Currently in beta test in the U.S. and U.K. is PURE, a PCI 3D rendering board for graphics workstations from England-based Advanced Rendering Technology (ART). The card is based around an array of ART’s AR350 ray-tracing graphics processors. The 3D chip is designed to accelerate the complex, physically based ray-trace rendering algorithm. Each AR350 features a geometry co-processor for performing ray/triangle intersection calculations and an end-user-programmable shading co-processor for performing shading and lighting calculations. With eight AR350 chips, the PURE P1800 is said to be capable of performing over 1.1 Billion ray/triangle intersection tests each second. The company also claims rendering speed of 10X over software-based ray tracing.
ART also offers RenderPipe for Maya plug-in interface for AliasWavefront’s Maya application, RenderPipe MAX for 3ds max or 3D Studio VIZ, and a generic RenderMan interface.
Orders are being taken now for delivery in November. Recommended retail price is £2499 / $3699 excl. delivery and duties.
Get involved! Siggraph 2002, the 29th International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, is seeking contributors who work, play, and live with the latest advancements in computer graphics and interactive techniques. The technical presentation submission options include Papers, Panels, Courses, Sketches and Applications, Educators Program, new Web Graphics Program, and Creative Applications Lab. The conference is also seeking contributors for the Art Gallery, Computer Animation Festival, Emerging Technologies, sigKIDS, and Studio, whose work enables attendees to experience the technology. In addition, it is asking for volunteers and support for the following services: GraphicsNet, International Resources, Pathfinders, and Student Volunteers.
Siggraph 2002 will be held 21 - 26 July at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Since the 1998 debut of Jennifer Niederst's "Web Design in a Nutshell" by veteran Web designer, much on the Web has changed. "The difficult thing about writing about the Web is that it's a moving target, constantly changing and evolving," says Niederst, author of "Web Design in a Nutshell, Second Edition" (O'Reilly, US $29.95).
The book was revamped to reflect today's new Web-design environment, focusing on the front-end aspects of Web design, such as HTML authoring, graphics production, and media development. "In keeping with the trends, there is a new emphasis on creating Web pages according to standards--using HTML for structure and Cascading Style Sheets for all style information," says Niederst. "Although traditional nonstandard Web tricks are still included for the sake of thoroughness, they are presented in a more cautionary tone."
Chapter 13, "Tables," is available free online at http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wdnut2/chapter/ch13.html
For more information about the book, including Table of Contents, index, author bio, and samples, see http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wdnut2/
The latest from Eidos is Core's third-person 3D squad-based action game, Project Eden. Taking control of a four-man team from the Urban Protection Agency, your task is to descend into the claustrophobic sub levels of the city. Amid the flesh ripping mutants, you must uncover a conspiracy that threatens the infrastructure that will lead to the collapse of the World above.
Download the demo from http://www.eidosinteractive.com/downloads/search.html?gmid=84.
Microsoft announced last week that MechWarrior 4: Black Knight Expansion, an add-on pack for MechWarrior 4: Vengeance, has gone gold and is expected to hit store shelves in early November. MechWarrior 4: Black Knight Expansion drops the player into the notorious Black Knight Legion, a mercenary group of MechWarriors focused on taking care of the most important people - themselves.
Black Knight pack introduces five new ‘Mechs for the player to pilot: the Sunder, Ryoken, Uller, Wolfhound and Black Knight. It also includes several new vehicles, such as the Demolisher II Heavy Tank and the Nightwind Attack Helicopter; and new weapons including cluster bombs.
Players will also have access to rare weapons through the game's newest feature, the Black Market. The Black Market allows the player to take salvaged 'Mechs and weapons that they don’t need and trade them for something they do need. Players are no longer restricted to items salvaged from the battlefield; they can now take their chances on the Black Market.
In MechWarrior 4: Vengeance, gamers command a 40-foot tall, 100-ton war machine across the remote battlefields of a hostile world. Instead of desolate, sparsely populated battlefields, MechWarrior 4 takes place in a universe inhabited by armed allies, noncombatants, and deadly antagonists. High-energy lasers pierce the night, rockets flare with blazing fire, and buildings and vehicles crumble into smoldering rubble. Features include day and night missions, fog, rain, snow, blizzards and lightning.
Sierra last week released SWAT 3: Tactical Game of the Year Edition. The special third installment in the PC-based is a two-CD edition including 27 missions, 10-person multiplayer, new weapons and mods. Also included is an Advanced Tactics CD, with real-world SWAT tactics and strategies, including instructional training videos and a Q&A tactics section, all provided by actual SWAT officers. And that's not all! … This edition also lets gamers create their own version of SWAT with tools such as the Worldcraft Level Editor and the newly enhanced Scenario Editor with career-editing functionality.
SWAT 3 places gamers in crisis situations in realistic Los Angeles locations, such as Whitman Airport and Chang's Theater. The game adds six new missions to the original 21 missions, each playable in both single and multiplayer versions. Developed in conjunction with LAPD SWAT, the game reportedly emphasizes saving lives and rewards gamers for non-violent resolution of each mission.
In addition, Sierra has released a free, downloadable SWAT 3 version 2.0 update, giving owners of Close Quarters Battle and Elite Edition all of the features of the new Tactical Game of the Year Edition with the exception of those materials found on the Advanced Tactics CD. The 2.0 update includes 10-man multiplayer game play, enhanced AI, the option to play as an element leader or be commanded by an AI element leader, and the newly enhanced Scenario Editor.
RealNetworks last week announced the release of RealArcade, its Internet game service. The service offers full-version digital downloads, free online Web games, streaming games, and massively multiplayer games. Features include download and installation management, automatic systems requirements checking and integrated e-commerce. Also, integrated game manuals, message boards, user ratings, chat rooms and multi-player matching.
Coming in late 2002 from Impressions Games and Sierra is Lords of the Realm III, a medieval simulation that covers the life of being a lord in the middle ages. Activities include castle building and design, rural estate management, acquiring knights and soldiers to make armies, warfare and conquest, politics and diplomacy, and the struggle with or against the Church, and with the rising merchant class. New features include a 3D graphics engine and elimination of interface elements that undermine the sense of immersion.
The game can be played by a single player, or by two to eight competing players. The multiplayer game includes various short, single-session scenarios or modes of play in addition to longer campaigns.
Lords of the Realm III is set in the medieval period or the "Middle Ages," between 850 AD and 1350 AD. Various scenarios and campaigns encompass the British Isles, Germany, France, Normandy, Brittany, Flanders and Denmark. Many figures, places, peoples, events and other things familiar and recognizable today (some historical, some fictional) arose in the Middle Ages, and are encountered in Lords III. Examples include people like William Wallace and Robin Hood, places like Stonehenge and the Tower of London, and events such as the Crusades and the scourge of the Black Plague.
Reed Midem, organizers of MILIA 2002, the World's Interactive Content Marketplace, last week unveiled first details of next year's Think.Tank Summit Conference, a two-day international conference for 2,000 decision makers from interactive TV, wireless, broadband, interactive content and games.
The conference, co-organized with Steve Cooke of Electronic Pages, will focus on the role of entertainment content development and the part these companies have to play in the development of new entertainment platforms and distribution technologies.
Confirmed keynotes include Brian Farrell, chief executive officer of THQ Inc. Confirmed speakers also include Bill Goodland, director of Internet at NTL; John Raczka, head of content at BT OpenWorld; Robert Gellick, Global Design and Planning, Motorola; Phil Harrison, senior vice president, development, at SCEE; Matti Hamalainen, director of CodeOnline; Adrian Pilkington, head of Games at BSKYB; and speakers from companies such as interactive TV specialist Digital Bridges and game developers Viz Interactive.
Think.Tank Summit 2002 will also include a series of live data sessions, where industry analysts will present trends, projections and demographics. A case study focus will also offer a close-up look at mobile, interactive TV and online gaming around the world.
MILIA 2002 Think.Tank Summit will be held Feb. 4-5, 2002; the exhibition is Feb. 5-8, 2002, at the Palais des Festivals, Cannes, France.
Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.
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