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Businessweek Archives

A Panoramic View From Your Pc

Bits & Bytes


LIVE PICTURE INC. WANTS TO bring the "you are there" feel to photos with its PhotoVista program. The software stitches together eight to 16 snapshots--either photos that have been scanned into a PC or images from a digital camera--to recreate virtual panoramic views. Special processing algorithms eliminate overlap between the snapshots and provide the subtle warp necessary to make the pictures appear panoramic. The software can even atone for some variances in brightness or angle caused by shaky hands while taking the photos.

The resulting digital image file can be added to any Web site. Cybernauts can download for free from Live Picture's Web site ( the RealSpace Viewer, software that allows surfers to look up, down, and around the virtual vista by using horizontal and vertical scroll bars.

PhotoVista isn't the first virtual space software by any means. In fact, Live Picture Vice-President Eric Chen developed a similar program, QuickTime VR, while he was at Apple Computer Inc. in the early 1990s. But whereas QuickTime VR could handle only a horizontal strip of pictures, PhotoVista can be used to recapture the sky overhead and the dirt below.

The program, expected to be released next month, will be sold for around $99 through direct-mail catalogs. PhotoVista also may be bundled with some digital cameras.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG Peter BurrowsReturn to top


FOR A COMPANY THAT MADE its name in the PC business, Compaq Computer Corp. is creating quite a splash in high-performance workstations. Compaq has shipped about 35,000 Professional Workstation units since the line's rollout in October and has become the market leader in Britain with financial-services companies such as Barclays Bank PLC. Compaq hopes to do even better when it takes the wraps off its newest workstation offerings on June 9.

The new 6000 and 8000 models, which will run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT, are expected to have ultrafast performance via a new design for multiple Intel Corp. microprocessors. The 6000 line will come with one or two 266-MHz Pentium II chips, and the 8000 will have up to four Pentium Pro processors, say people familiar with the announcement. Compaq also is expected to unveil a support program to help software developers create programs that take advantage of the multiprocessor design. Software makers that are expected to support Compaq's Multiprocessing Initiative include Adobe Corp. and Parametric Technology Corp.

Compaq's machines, aimed at the RISC Unix workstation market, are expected to be priced at $7,000, about $1,000 less than comparable machines.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG Gary McWilliamsReturn to top


THE LATEST BUZZ AMONG INformation systems managers is about "middleware," or software that allows different computer programs used in a corporate network to work together. The newest player in the market is CrossRoads Software Inc. in Burlingame, Calif.

The company has formed a series of agreements and alliances with key software makers, such as the Baan Company and PeopleSoft Inc., to produce middleware that links together their popular applications. CrossRoads' Connectors and Collaborations software are object-oriented programming modules that automate common business processes. For example, a Collaborations module might direct a Connector to link a program that tracks a technical support call to another program in the accounting system. In that way an invoice based on the length of the call would automatically be generated. Since Collaborations work with any application, if a company changes or updates one program, it needs to update only the appropriate Connector.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENGReturn to top

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