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  1. Technology
April 14, 1992


By CBR Staff Writer

Photo-CD, the Eastman Kodak Co-Philips Electronics NV-developed technology for enabling 35mm photographic film images to be stored on compact disk for playback and manipulation on television or computer screen, is just five months away from its launch and Kodak has been busily demonstrating the marvels of the technology to dealers at the Brown Goods Show in London. The Photo-CD players will be available in September in three models, obtainable from high-street electrical retail outlets, some photographic outlets and photo-video outlets. The systems will range in price from #300 to #430 – the basic PCD265, for simple playback of photos in any desired order; the mid-range PCD865, offering more image manipulation features such as zoom focus and picture rotation; and the high-end PCD5865, which is basically the same as the latter, but with a five-disk carousel. The players are all made by Philips’ Electronics division for Kodak. They are aimed at photo-buffs, and the average gimmick-loving household. Kodak has no qualms about whether the average photographer will feel the need to have her holiday snaps up in blazing colour on the television, and is suitably confident that it will ship 2,000 units in the first three months. The systems will, importantly, also play existing audio compact disks, but this facility will do nothing for the thousands of customers that already own audio compact disk players. Kodak isn’t worried about the introduction of the consumer CD-I compact disk-interactive players, which are about to ship in the UK Mike Lucas, of the company’s colour photography technology department in Harrow, Middlesex, notes that CD-I players will be more expensive, and that those that do buy them will encourage the take-up of Photo-CD. The photo-finishing systems, which costs a total #75,000, including the Kodak scanner and thermal printer, Philips disk writer, Kodak-badged Sun Sparcstation 2 for data management and software. These are available now, but even if photo-finishing outlets don’t take them up immediately, Kodak has some 20 labs up and down the country, so the customer can be assured of getting her photo-disk back within five days it is expected that customers will pay #13 for the first transfer of 24 images to compact disk. Kodak will make the blank optical write-once disks, which will be available to licensed photo-finishers for #5. The Sparcstation, badged as the Kodak PCD Data Manager, uses Kodak image processing software for image data enhancement, data compression, data structuring and data formatting. Perhaps the most interesting, and quite possibly controversial, application for the Photo-CD technology is in the commercial world, where it could be used for desktop publishing and multimedia applications – especially now that the technology has been embraced by Apple Computer Inc in its QuickTime authoring software (CI Nos 1,881, 1,884); and by the police, museums and estate agents for photographic databases. As reported (CI No 1,884), Philips Consumer Electronics, Pioneer Communications, Sony Corp and Toshiba Corp are to offer Photo-CD compatible CD-ROM drives, likely available around the time of the September consumer launch, to enable Photo-CD to be used on personal computers and Apple Macintosh systems. The potential for controversy lies with the ease with which users are going to be able to touch up photographs. At the Brown Goods Show, Kodak demonstrated an example of a photograph that had been scanned into a workstation. Side by side were a before and after version of the same picture: before was the original photo of a woman in front of a swing – the swing was positioned so that it looked as if it was emerging from her left ear, so the after version was swing-less. It would have been impossible to tell which photo was the original, and the final print-out looked every bit like a photograph just returned from a photo processing lab. Photo-CD disks are compatible with several compact disk data formats, including CD-ROM XA – the bridge between CD-ROM and CD-I; a technology developed by Microso

ft, Philips and Sony as a standard to integrate audio and images into computing applications. Kodak is currently encouraging third parties to incorporate Photo-CD technology into MS-DOS, OS/2, Unix and Macintosh environments. Kodak says it will license its Photo-CD technology to other film manufacturers, or sell the base system on an OEM basis, although it will hold back on its secret ingredient – the conversion-to-reference capture-device.

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