Get ready to see lots more video on the screen of your personal computer. A soon-to-be-announced industry standard could stimulate rapid development of games, corporate training materials, and other software that includes full-screen, full-motion video. So far, only one company, Sigma Designs Inc. in Fremont, Calif., makes a plug-in board for PCs that can handle video stored on CD-ROMs in the so-called moving picture experts group (MPEG) format. But lots of other companies are getting ready to jump in.
The problem is to create software that interacts with the plug-in boards in a predictable way. To avoid a profusion of different so-called application-programmer interfaces, key industry players formed a standard-setting committee. The committee's original idea was to come up with an alternative to Sigma Designs' proprietary standard. But that could have taken a year or more. To speed things up, C-Cube Microsystems Inc. in Milpitas, Calif., whose MPEG-decompression chip forms the heart of MPEG video boards, brokered a deal in August for the industry group to adopt most of the features of Sigma's standard. The agreement is set to be announced in late September.