- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Jul 03, 2000
PCs Take Back Seat at PC Expo
Storage, wireless and mobile computing; imaging, security and encryption
devices; ultra-portable projectors, digital music devices and, oh yeah,
PCs were all on display last week at PC Expo in New York City.
IBM Corp., Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard
Co., Sony Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. all made product or partnership
announcements at the show, but this year's PC Expo focused more on emerging
technologies than PCs.
A lot of the show buzz centered on DVD-RAM recording technology. More
than 40 hardware and software companies unveiled 4.7G/9.4G DVD-RAM
drives and media that should increase the technology's penetration in
government and industry, where it has been traditionally associated with
"Basically, it's digital storage management," said Rudolf Vitti, a senior
project engineer at Panasonic's digital products engineering division. "The
cost per megabyte of storage is less than one cent, and it's good for 10
years, where tape starts to bleed through much faster."
The DVD-RAM disks can be used to store 5,200 full-color digital pictures,
150 minutes of MPEG-2 compressed theater-quality video, more than eight
hours of CD-quality audio. All of that is about the equivalent of a stack
of telephone books more than 50 stories high.
"When I was in the Navy, there were all sorts of electronics going on
with air and surface pictures, and this would allow them to be able to record
what's going on from all the sensors," said Peter Doelling, marketing manager
Doelling said DVD-RAM storage offers numerous benefits when compared
with tape, including "cleaner" quality, increased durability and ruggedness,
and easier storage. "You can also store more than two hours of MPEG-2 video
that could be used for [government] training or simulations, instead of
tape in a VCR."
Erin Dorr, Eastern sales representative for JVC, said the Navy and Air
Force are using the company's DVD-RAM products for data archiving and storage,
and are anxiously awaiting the ability to archive e-mail messages on DVDs.
"We have e-mail archiving on CDs, but it's not available on DVD yet," Dorr
said. "We should have it within the next year...and it's something the [government]
has asked for."
A Touch of Security
A new company making waves in New York was Ethentica Inc., which introduced
security products and services aimed at verifying an individual's identity
through passwords, smart cards, biometrics or a combination of the three.
A partner company to Safeguard Scientifics Inc., Ethentica also unveiled
a touch verification product for mobile computing: a PC Card with a pop-out
A spokesman for Ethentica said that the new company is focused on the
private sector but has had contact with the FBI, the CIA and other government
agencies interested in doing evaluations or pilots.
Metastorm Inc., a provider of e-process automation software, announced
the beta release of e-work Designer Lite. The new software enables business
and government users to design World Wide Web-based workflows for almost
e-business process — without any intervention from an IT staff — using
simple drag-and-drop icons.
Metastorm's government customers include the Small Business Administration,
the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Customs Service.
Proxima Corp. launched a family of 5-pound portable devices, including
one model that's drawing government interest. The UltraLight DX2 can use
video sources, including VCRs and DVDs, features 1,000 lumens and Texas
Instruments Inc.'s Digital Light Processing technology on a 0.7-inch chip.
"The DX2 offers great performance at a great price point," said Stuart
Schaffer, vice president of marketing at Proxima, adding that all of the
company's projectors are on the General Services Administration schedule.
"The weight has been moving down, the performance has maintained or gotten
better, and the price has gone down" from previous versions, he said, adding
that mobile government presenters at numerous agencies have inquired specifically
about the DX2.
Current federal Proxima customers include the Navy's Space and Naval
Warfare Systems Command and Fort Stewart, Savannah, Ga., which uses the
projectors for battle simulations.
Hummingbird Ltd., recently announced the Hummingbird EIP 1.5, a platform-independent
enterprise information portal. The new product can be deployed on Microsoft
Corp.'s Windows NT, Unix and Linux platforms, is available on the General
Services Administration schedule, and "shipping is imminent," said Ron Grimes,
Earlier this year, Science Applications International Corp., purchased
Hummingbird EIP for installation in a federal government organization, but
Grimes could not name the agency because of a confidentiality agreement.
He did say that Hummingbird has more than 60,000 seats in the federal space
in the departments of Defense, Justice and Treasury, the White House, the
Environmental Protection Agency and others.