Industry Watch

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

entertainment.

"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

at Hitachi.

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

fingerprint sensor.

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.

Drag-and-Drop E-gov

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

any

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.

Projecting Light

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.

Information Humming

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,

product-marketing strategist.

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.

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