Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

24 October 2005
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Today's Headlines (details below)

--EI Technology Group Releases EIAS 6.5r1
--PolyBoost Upgraded
--eMagin Lauded for Stereographic Display
--wondertouch Offers particleIllusion Deal to Combustion users
--DDD Launches 3D TV Set Top Conversion Box

--O'Reilly Releases "Yahoo! Hacks"
--CEA Chronicles Five Technologies to Watch

--Tandberg Acquires ITV Tech

--IGDA Survey Finds Game Developers Homogeneous, Not So Young

--Macromedia Announces 2005 MAX Award Winners
--auto.des.sys Announces Academic Awards

About Spectrum



EI Technology Group Releases EIAS 6.5r1

Not having heard much about the venerable 3D software Electric Image Animation System of late, we were surprised to discover that the EI Technology Group, the current publisher, recently released EIAS 6.5r1. EIAS 6.5r1 is an update for EIAS 6.0. This release is a free update for licensed owners of EIAS 6.0. The update requires no new unlock code. All previous 6.0 codes will work with the new release.

EIAS 6.5r1 now features a new “Monte Carlo” global illumination system integrated within EIAS Camera. EI Technology Group has chosen to distribute Release Candidate 1 of EIAS 6.5 to allow customers immediate access to the new Global Illumination system. EI Technology Group has delayed the release of EIAS 6.5 with support for Alias’s FBX format to allow more development time. EI Technology Group expects to release the final version of EIAS 6.5 with support of FBX before the end of the year.



PolyBoost Upgraded

A new version of the 3ds Max modeling plug-in PolyBoost is now available from the developer. Additions and changes in the new version include:



eMagin Lauded for Stereographic Display

eMagin Corporation says it received recognition as a member of DigitalLife Innovators Class of 2005. DigitalLife acknowledged the company's first consumer offering - the Z800 3DVisor, which was demonstrated last week at DigitalLife in New York City.

Presented by Ziff Davis Media, the DigitalLife Innovators Class of 2005 program honors industry members that educate consumers on what the digital lifestyle means in every aspect of life - at work, home and play.

The Z800 3DVisor delivers a virtual image equivalent to a 105-inch screen viewed at twelve feet, in full-color stereovision. The unit's head tracking enables 360-degree viewing; requirements include a standard USB port.

Based on eMagin's OLED (organic light-emitting diode) microdisplays and patented optics, the Z800 3DVisor is eMagin's first product for consumers, and is now available at www.emagin.com. The company supplies its OLED microdisplays, optics, and near-eye viewing modules, as well as customizable systems, to OEM and ODM manufacturers. eMagin displays have been used for applications ranging from 3D simulation to thermal imaging to augmented reality.

At the heart of the Z800 3DVisor, eMagin's active matrix OLED (organic light-emitting diode) microdisplays deliver 800x3x600-resolution imagery for near-eye applications. Because OLED materials emit light, the displays are thinner and lighter than conventional LCDs, and they require less power, permitting this product to be created without a need for added battery packs or power adapters. OLED microdisplays offer higher contrast and a wider dispersion of light, making them more comfortable to view and usable for near-eye applications. eMagin's 3D OLED microdisplays recognize and deliver left-eye and right-eye stereovision signals. Color pixel data is buffered under each pixel site, eliminating flicker and smear.


wondertouch Offers particleIllusion Deal to Combustion users

wondertouch, a developer of particle effects creation tools, is offering a limited-time upgrade promotion that allows registered owners of Autodesk Combustion 3 or Combustion 4 desktop software to receive more than 50% off the USMSRP of particleIllusion 3.0, the latest version of the company's 2D particle effects software. The promotion, which ends November 15, lets Combustion owners purchase the standalone version of particleIllusion 3.0 for Windows or Mac OS X platforms, for $179.00, a savings of $220.00.

particleIllusion is designed to customize and modify effects, or create entirely new and realistic particle effects for images, animation, and video footage, and has been used in hundreds of feature films, TV episodes, and broadcast commercials worldwide. In 2001 the wondertouch development team integrated the particleIllusion 2.0 engine into Combustion 2 to provide access to particle effects. Combustion 4, the latest version of Autodesk's visual effects and 3D desktop compositing software, still contains the particleIllusion 2.0 engine.

The standalone application of particleIllusion 3.0 offers Combustion 3 and Combustion 4 software users several advantages, including:



DDD Launches 3D TV Set Top Conversion Box

DDD Group recently introduced its TriDef Vision+ 3D set top box ('Vision+'). Vision+ is said to convert most popular consumer video formats to 3D as they are watched, allowing broadcast, DVD and videocassette content to be presented in 3D on the latest 3D displays and projection systems.

The delivery of the Vision+ set top box represents the final milestone in a GBP 140,000 development agreement with Arisawa Manufacturing Co., Ltd. ('Arisawa'), announced in late 2004. By combining the real-time 3D conversion capabilities of the Vision+ with the 30" 3D LCD displays developed by Arisawa's optoelectronics division, Arisawa and DDD have delivered a solution for mass-market 3D television.

Using Arisawa's 3D optics, the flat screen 3D televisions can reportedly display conventional 2D pictures as well as 3D. When the viewer decides to watch in 3D, she activates the Vision+ set top box using his remote control and puts on a pair of 3D glasses. The system then delivers 3D images.

In addition to the real-time conversion feature, the Vision+ also supports the playback of specially made 3D movies. This yields an important in-home distribution channel for the latest generation of Hollywood 3D movies that are in production for the new 3D digital cinemas that are presently being opened around the United States.

The Vision+ is compatible with DVD, video and broadcast standards used in the United States, Japan and Europe. Vision+ also supports twin projectors allowing it to be used in trade show and professional/educational venues where big screen 3D is required for large audiences.

Both Arisawa and DDD are now actively engaged in presentations and discussions with leading flat screen display manufacturers with the goal of licensing the combined solution for mass-market 3D television.




O'Reilly Releases "Yahoo! Hacks"

In 1990, the Web was as untamed and wild as the new territories west of the Mississippi in the early 1900s. Since then, it has continued to evolve, tackle new terrain, and grow exponentially into the powerful resource it is today. Enter Yahoo!--the geek version of Wyatt Earp, ready to bring order and structure to the Web by harnessing its power. And whether users want to become power searchers, newsmongers, savvy shoppers, or innovative Web developers, "Yahoo! Hacks" (O'Reilly, $24.95) by Paul Bausch, provides the tips and tools that will take readers further into the Web.

"Yahoo! was one of the first search engines to successfully tackle the Web in the 1990s," said Bausch. "But, as with any true frontier, the Web landscape changes often, and Yahoo! has changed with it. 'Yahoo! Hacks' is a response and a nod of appreciation to those changes. We take you deeper into Yahoo!--and deeper into the Web--than any sane person would want to go."

As many know, Yahoo! is filled with useful and innovative tools and services--from email, blogging, social networking, and instant messaging, to news, financial markets, shopping, movie and TV listings, and much more. Today's Yahoo! keeps you connected with every aspect of your life and every corner of the Web. "Yahoo! Hacks" shows how to use, expand, personalize, and tweak Yahoo!. Readers can learn how to:

For more information about the book, including sample hacks, index, and the author bio, see:



CEA Chronicles Five Technologies to Watch

The Consumer Electronic Association (CEA) last week released the 2006 edition of Five Technologies to Watch, an annual publication that examines five prominent technology trends set to influence the consumer electronics (CE) industry in the year ahead. The new edition examines recordable high-definition content, domestic robotics, the digital home studio, interactive gaming and innovative displays.

Geared toward industry professionals, the publication provides an analysis of each of the five trends and outlines related issues and market forecasts for the upcoming year. Other topics covered for each trend include consumer perspectives, partnerships, key players and public policy issues.

The ability to receive and record HD content at home is quickly becoming a reality of the digital age. The surge in HDTV sets and HD programming will see recordable high-definition devices, including Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD and HD DVR, also making a big impact in the market, according to Five Technologies to Watch. Already, digital video recorders (DVRs) can be found in nearly 10 percent of American homes and the number is expected to rise in 2006 with more cable and satellite providers offering the HDVR service. Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD offer the ability to record and transport HD content, but a potential format war between the two standards could be a roadblock to the adoptability of HD recording. Copy protection and video-on-demand also pose significant threats to recordable HD devices; however consumer research points to a bright future for HD recording.

New advances in robotics still have not produced a robot that can match a human's flexibility, mobility and dexterity; however, single purpose or specialized robots are quickly becoming a reality in a number of homes. For example, robotic vacuums can already be found in a half a million American homes and other domestic robots that can control home networks, sort laundry or scrub the kitchen floor are not far off. In fact, in the not-so-distant future, domestic robots likely will be sold as household appliances or accessories to a suite of appliances. But in order to achieve mass-market appeal, these robots must be relatively inexpensive, reliable and effective - on par with other labor saving consumer appliances.

The explosion of digital cameras, camcorders, audio players, software and printers, along with other digital imaging and video recording devices and accessories, has created an entirely new segment of savvy consumers that create their own digital home studios to create, edit, print, store and share digital content. The do-it-yourself, or DIY, content market represents serious dollars. According to Five Technologies to Watch, in 2005 consumers will spend about $14 billion on devices for DIY content creation, which represents about one third of the total sales of digital cameras and camcorders. DIY content creation will not be a primary sales volume driver, but DIYers, while smaller in number, spend higher dollars for better equipment and help fuel the demand for new computers, peripherals and multimedia production software. With the rapid advancement and abundance of digital devices on the scene, aspiring photographers, filmmakers, musicians and artists will help make the DIY or digital home studio market thrive in the years to come.

Electronic gaming is a rich and dynamic component of the consumer electronics world. Shipment revenues of consoles and portable game platforms are expected to increase 18 percent to $3.7 billion in 2005, according to CEA market research cited in the publication. In addition, PC-based gaming has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry of its own and spawned new segments such as PDA and cell phone gaming platforms. Next-generation consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo which will launch in late 2005 and early 2006 will be the next big opportunity for the video game market. These consoles can act as a cornerstone for the digital home by incorporating high-definition movie playback, online game play, digital camera and camcorder connectivity, and the ability to access computer files stored on a PC. On the console and PC gaming front, plans are in the works for on-demand game services offered through cable, satellite or IPTV and the possibility of a "personal game room" looks to be the next big thing in the custom installation world. Mobile gaming also continues to be big, with the market expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2008.

Finally, with the transition to digital well underway, the market for innovative television displays will continue to grow exponentially. With a renewed focus on home design and space, flat panel displays such as plasma, LCD and DLP have become increasingly popular. These sets promise a big screen and unprecedented picture quality in a thin package and sales of each will continue to grow even as the average wholesale TV price increases from $323 to $533, according to CEA forecasts. Still on the horizon for the TV market are newer, thinner display technologies, surface conduction electron emitter (SED) and organic light emitting diodes (OLED), which will succeed today's flat panel display technologies and become the upgrade TVs of the near future. All combined, the volume of expected sales, the increased competition and the government's effort to accelerate the transition create a market for display technologies that is sure to be hot long into the future.

The 2006 edition of Five Technologies to Watch also includes a special section dedicated to future technologies just emerging on the consumer electronics market. Hydrogen fuel cells for portable devices, radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, biometric scanners and nanotechnology will all help to create new products that that the organization claims will be more convenient, more personalized and more powerful than those of today.




Tandberg Acquires ITV Tech

Tandberg Television has signed a definitive agreement to acquire US-based GoldPocket Interactive, Inc. (GPI), a provider of open-standards interactive television technology, solutions and systems. Under the terms of the agreement, Tandberg will acquire privately-held GPI for a mix of cash and Tandberg Television shares. The total consideration will be $78.5M and the completion of the transaction is subject to a number of standard conditions. The transaction is expected to close in December 2005.

GPI develops and sells products and services that create, manage, and deliver digital and interactive media. The company specializes in interactive television systems used across digital television, the internet, and wireless/mobile networks. GPI serves media companies, cable and satellite operators, and wireless carriers through five major business lines: interactive television, cable & satellite, wireless, digital media security, and interactive advertising.

According to Kagan Research, the market for interactive services across cable, satellite and telco platforms is accelerating. US operator revenues are estimated at $33.6M in 2005, with a forecasted rise of over 20 times to $780M in 2009. In an increasingly complex and crowded media world, content owners are moving to differentiate themselves; advertisers are looking to interactive environments as key to individual targeting and brand engagement; and broadcasters and operators are launching interactive applications across multiple platforms to boost their consumer appeal in a progressively more competitive environment.

Tandberg Television has an open systems strategy on which it intends to build a platform for interactive, on-demand digital TV delivery based on a non-proprietary environment of proven performance. In addition to its video-compression head-end systems and on-demand solutions, Tandberg Television can now provide content owners, operators and advertisers with a non-proprietary environment for the creation and delivery of interactive consumer applications across cable, satellite, telco and mobile platforms.




IGDA Survey Finds Game Developers Homogeneous, Not So Young

According to a new report from the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), the game community largely comprises white, educated males, with just over five years of experience in the field. The study also showed that the average age is 31, a surprising statistic in a sector thought to be very young. The IGDA's survey further revealed that more than half of studios find it tough to draw applicants of diverse background.

The IGDA report, the first of its kind, answers the question, "Who makes games?" by examining the demographic makeup of the development community.

Nearly 6,500 people participated in the survey, answering a series of questions pertaining to age, race, sexual orientation and education among other variables.

"As an industry, we need to wake up to the fact that games exist in a broader societal context that is constantly changing," Jason Della Rocca, executive director for the IGDA, said. "There is no doubt that we would all benefit from a diverse pool of talented creators appealing to ever broader audiences."

Key results of the demographic survey include:




Macromedia Announces 2005 MAX Award Winners

Macromedia last week announced the winners of the 2005 MAX Awards, which recognize the top digital experiences built with Macromedia technology. Attendees at MAX 2005, the annual conference for Macromedia customers, selected New Line Cinema's "Crash This Trailer" Website as the People's Choice award winner from 16 finalists across eight categories. Developed by Tequila Sydney with Macromedia Flash, the site allows visitors to "crash" the trailer for the new film, "Wedding Crashers," as well as upload a picture and become one of the five major characters in the trailer.

Winners and finalists for the 2005 MAX Awards were selected by a team of Macromedia judges based on design and development, usability, application of Macromedia technology, and brand building.

The winners, by category, are:

Advertising and Branding Experience: Royal Caribbean International -- Freedom of the Seas Microsite
Royal Caribbean's new ship, "Freedom of the Seas," is scheduled to hit the water in June 2006. In anticipation of the maiden voyage, Arnold Worldwide/IQ Interactive developed a Website using Macromedia Studio with Flash Professional that keeps visitors up-to-date on the ship's construction progress. Developers utilized 3D architectural renderings supplemented with full-motion video and seamless composites to create an immersive experience.

Business Experience: SAP -- SAP Analytics
The SAP Analytics site includes more than 100 analytic applications that development and solution management teams built with Macromedia Flex and SAP NetWeaver Visual Composer. SAP developed a visually appealing site that is easy to modify and use, while making business intelligence appropriate and consumable by the average business user.

Customer-Facing Experience: Converse -- Converse One
Converse uses Flash for an online sneaker configurator and a Converse One experience. With the design and interface of the site developed by ZAAZ and the incorporation of Nike's reusable middleware architecture created by R/GA, customers can design and purchase footwear.

Education and Non-Profit Experiences: University of Texas, Center for Energy and Environmental Resources -- Trajectory Tool
The state-mandated Corpus Christi Air Monitoring and Surveillance Camera Installation and Operation Project gives citizens of Corpus Christi, Texas, the ability to track airborne particles and air pollutants over their city. Built by the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Energy and Environmental Resources with Flash, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Macromedia ColdFusion, this trajectory tool provides near real-time data from a number of air monitoring stations, as well as the ability to zoom in on a certain section of the city.

eLearning Experience: BMW AG -- MINI World Challenge
In order to provide learning opportunities for MINI sales and service personnel, BMW AG released the Flash-based MINI World Challenge, developed by Interone Worldwide GmbH -- Hamburg. Over a six month period, more than 2000 participants from 20 countries had the opportunity to test their MINI knowledge with quizzes that balanced learning, competition, and knowledge testing in an engaging MINI atmosphere.

Government Experience: Airservices Australia -- Flying Around
Created by Airservices Australia with Flash, Dreamweaver, Macromedia Fireworks, and Macromedia FreeHand, Flying Around is an informational Website and interactive visual guide to increase pilots' awareness in and around controlled airspaces. The site helps pilots operate safe and effective flights by providing interactive charts, aerial photos showing new geography of the landscape, specific information on each capital city, and controller tips about hazards in areas of controlled airspace.

Media, Entertainment, and Gaming Experiences: New Line Cinema -- Crash This Trailer
Developed by Tequila Sydney with Flash, New Line Cinema allows site visitors to "crash" the trailer for their new film, "Wedding Crashers." Visitors can upload a picture and become one of the five major characters in the trailer. Flash animates the user's face, making it seem as if they are Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson.

Mobile Experience: Dolce & Gabbana -- D&G For Realovers
Dolce & Gabbana's D&G For Realovers game, designed by Interpreting.it S.r.l. with Flash, Fireworks, and FreeHand, reaches customers all over the world. Users can play the game on their PDAs and Macromedia Flash Lite-enabled mobile phones in addition to desktop computers.

2005 MAX Special Achievement Award: Tian Tian
A 2005 MAX Special Achievement Award for design was presented to Tian Tian, a Flash designer living and working in China. She uses Flash for her site, http://www.TinaFlash.com, and creates stunning animation shorts presenting fantastic worlds where nature and technology intersect. Founded in early 2003, her Tian Tian Studio boasts many leading brand-name customers in China and focuses on animation, cartoons, and mobile Flash content.



auto.des.sys Announces Academic Awards

auto.des.sys announces the 2005 form.Z Joint Study Program Awards, given out during the ACADIA conference, October 13-16, in Savannah, Georgia.

Currently in its 14th year, the form.Z Joint Study Program involves over 250 universities and some high schools worldwide. This is a program with which auto.des.sys, Inc. supports and subsidizes the learning of the new digital tools, primarily 3D. At the end of each academic year auto.des.sys collects the projects that were created through this program and publishes the annual form.Z Joint Study Report. This has evolved into an event that documents the development and progress of computer aided design and 3D modeling education in institutions of higher learning. This year eight awards of distinction and eight honorable mentions were granted. The nominated projects were divided in eight categories: Architectural Design, Interior Design, Urban and Landscape Design, Fabrication, Product and Industrial Design, Visualization/Illustration, Animation, and High Schools.

An international jury comprising five individuals outside of auto.des.sys, experts or theorists in computer-aided design, selected the award winners in a setting that did not disclose names or school affiliations. The jurors were:

The recipients of the Awards of Distinction this year are:

Visit http://www.formz.com/ for detailed information about the awards.
View the winning designs http://www.formz.com/joint_study/JS2005/awards20042005.html



About Spectrum

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/online-development tools and end product for review.

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