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Compression Labs Inc, the gran’daddy of the videoconferencing business based in San Jose, California has expanded its key Japanese relationship with product research and development contracts approaching $5m with the same mystery major Japanese corporation with which it started doing business last year. The two companies plan to develop a line of video compression systems from 1.544Mbits-per-second to 56Kbps for use in high quality, high-definition television and videoconferencing applications. Videoconference systems, also known as codecs or coder-decoders, change video signals into low bit-rate digital signals for more cost-effective transmission to remote locations. Compression is accomplished by means of proprietary image processing algorithms and patents, which are the products of Compression Labs’ internally funded research. This partnership brings an entirely new scope to our international and domestic technology leadership, said John Tyson, chairman of Compression. The agreement calls for the development of codecs which will operate over a range of transmission speeds beginning at 1.544Mbps and extending downward to 56 Kbps. In addition to collaboration on overall design, the mysterious partnership will also work to further the use of videoconferencing in Japan. Comdex Miscellany

The fax fever currently gripping the US has spread to the portables market now with Holmes Microsystems – the Salt Lake City-based internal modems maker that specialises in laptops announcing Lapfax, the first internal add-in board to turn a Zenith, Toshiba, NEC or Datavue laptop into a fax machine: the handy little gadget is expected to list for about $550 once the company starts producing them in about a month; the Lapfax software supplied with the card doesn’t support scanners yet and that’s because Holmes is hoping to develop a very ergonomic light-weight clip-on full-page scanner for the portables market in the next six months, probably to be based on Sharp technology.

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