Photo Software

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2005-05-26 Print this article Print

Rashid went on to talk about some of the personal photography software from Microsofts Cambridge labs. These tools bring Photoshop-style power to the masses in an easy-to-use form, he said, focusing on a new Photomosaic tool that improves the family photo. "Take a picture at Christmas, and no one ever looks good at the same time. What this software does, is if you have a bunch of pictures of the same people, you can pick out the good ones by marking them with a green X, and bad ones with red." The software then analyzes a series of group shots to "automatically create a picture where everyone looks good." Rashid also described a new graphics modeling technique that dramatically cuts the size of manmade object renderings.
As an example, he pointed to a Ferrari wheel, which can take up to 600,000 polygons to represent. In Microsofts "Forza Motorsports" Xbox game, claimed Rashid, half of the polygon budget is for the wheels.
But by using a new technique called procedural geometry; those wheels can be represented by only 8KB of data, rather than the 26 megabytes it takes now. Its done by "describing the procedure of how you create a wheel, versus how it looks. It can be used for almost every manmade object." It wont work for natural objects such as trees, but he said there are other techniques under development that handle those. Connie Wong, the president of Hutchinson Whampoa Americas, then came onstage to give a short update on the state of 3G. Her company may be the biggest telecom vendor youve never heard of, with huge 3G implementations in eight European and Asian countries. They have more than three million subscribers after just 18 months, and theyve been serving up an incredible amount of data, including more than 300,000 sports clips per week. In the United Kingdom and Italy alone, they serve up more than a million streams a day. One of the most popular? A "Big Brother"-style show that puts four cameras in a household, feeding a local video server that streams it out to handsets 24 hours a day. She predicted that in the future, "events will basically shift the entertainment industry from being a publishing company to being a mobile company to launch new mobile content, and a lot of individuals will publish and create their own content." In the longer term, Wong predicted that "mobile voice calls will become flat-fee or even free, and revenue will come from value-added services." She ended not with a prediction but with a fact: "Mobile TV is here today." The merging of the biotech and nanotech worlds also was a big theme on Day 2. Neil Gregory, director of research at the London School of Economics, set the stage. "The present is digital, the future is wet," he insisted. "Biology is the new black, biology is the new rock n roll." Gregory pointed to a seminal event that just occurred—harvesting patient-specific stem cells using cloned human embryos. That should translate into cells perfectly matched to a patient—because they come essentially from that patient. That event was significant for a number of reasons. First, according to Gregory, "somatic cell replacement will be the transistor of this era." But the implications are even more profound for technology leadership in the First World. This breakthrough didnt happen in the United States or in Europe, but in Korea through the work of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk. Over the next 20 years, "industrial leadership will not take place in the USA and will not take place in Europe." Finally, Gregory predicted that the money that Microsoft gets from all of the Longhorn upgrades "will be dwarfed by the amount of money you and I will be willing to pay for real-time monitoring of our families health through the new biology." Later in the day, a nano/biotechnology round-table continued the discussion. Leading nanotech venture investor Josh Wolfe warned the crowd to beware of "nanopretenders," companies that are repositioning themselves by adding the word "nano" to their existing products. He said he expects the nanotechnology market to follow the basic biology trend, with first an exponential increase in companies, then a big die-out, and finally just a handful of strong survivors. He sees three types of nanotechnology—materials, semiconductors and electronics, and textiles. Wolfe said he is most excited about medical devices that can come out of nanotechnology material advances, and those that focus on electronics. Alan Russell, from the University of Pittsburg, then described the fascinating potential of nanotechnology operating at the edge of materials and cells, particularly around regenerative medicine. The body knows how to generate body parts—it all happened at least once in the womb. "Why cant you do the same thing with a heart, liver or brain?" he asked. "If a newt can do it, why not us?" One of the areas they are exploring is the space between the cells. Its called the "extra cellular matrix," and it comprises proteins, fats and peptides. Typically this stuff is harvested from cells in the small intestine. Why? According to Russell, when you eat something, "it rips up small intestine, so it regenerates really fast." All you need to do is grab a sample, and take the extra cellular matrix, or the signals from the cells, and theyll regenerate. And theyll tell other cells how to do it, too. He showed a movie of an open heart surgery in which this type of material was injected directly into a beating heart.. This procedure has been done hundreds of times in Uruguay, and in many cases, after six months, the heart patient is all but cured—"asymptotic" in Russells words. The key area of interest for Russell: how to seamlessly interface plastics and biological systems. Apart from the dramatic declines in infections, it offers the possibility of communicating with cells. Although theres a huge amount of research going into biosensors, where electronics listen to cells, "what if you could flip it?" he asked. Imagine if you could talk to cells rather than just listen. Next Page: Using proteins to improve LCD manufacturing.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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