Small firm working on the big picture

A small firm that develops 360-degree digital picture systems hopes that

its new product and ongoing work with a Defense Department agency will serve

as a springboard for big government deals.

RemoteReality Corp. today announced the availability of a new version

of its OneShot360 picture system, which requires only a single click of

the camera to capture an entire 360-degree view of a space. The product

would be helpful to agencies that rely heavily on visual communication,

especially the military.

Previous technologies required stitching multiple shots together, which

creates seams and detracts from the overall image quality. The OneShot360

technology replicates human vision and provides a view similar to being

at a location, said Hapet Berberian, general manager of integrated systems

at the Westborough, Mass.-based company.

Major software enhancements to the new product include:

* E-mail capabilities, which provide a simplified method for distributing

digital images to customers and partners.

* Additional viewer support, including Java file support, Apple Computer

Inc.'s QuickTime viewer and IBM Corp.'s HotMedia.

* Image enhancements, so users can adjust contrast and light within

images to improve the quality of digital pictures.

OneShot360 has been used in proof-of-concept solutions in RemoteReality's

work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to provide situational

awareness for military personnel, Berberian said.

RemoteReality has been working with DARPA on multiple projects since

early 1999 through the agency's Small Business Innovation Research program.

The first project involved building a prototype of an advanced video capture

device. That led to a second phase in which the "main intent is for us to

make higher-resolution optical devices to prototype...and then build an

application in the security and surveillance area for DARPA's [research

and development] needs," Berberian said.

The latest deal, which will begin work in January, has RemoteReality

partnering with Lockheed Martin Corp. on an infrared omni-directional imager

prototype that will allow military personnel to use robots to capture 360-degree

images in the dark.

"Our technologies don't work well in the dark, and the military needs

to see well in the dark, without an active light source," Berberian said.

"Lockheed has a division with infrared sensory and security...and it was

matter of putting these two things together."

RemoteReality received a $100,000 SBIR grant for its work on the project,

and the prototype should be ready by the end of 2001, Berberian said.

"The devices we build for government are beta products that are produced

in small quantities," Berberian said. "We hope in the near future to get

some big [government] buys, and then we can call them 'products.'"

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