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January 28, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:58pm

START-UP NEWFIRE TURNS UP THE HEAT IN 3D GRAPHICS MARKET

By CBR Staff Writer

Start-up Newfire Inc, formerly known as Axial Systems Inc, is claiming that its Heat browser 3D plug-in is between four to six times faster than any other VRML Virtual Reality Modeling Language 2.0 plug-in available, and matches or exceeds anything found in today’s 3D games. Founded by Adobe Systems Inc’s Alan Wootton, chief architect of Acrobat, along with Martin Hess, who worked on Apple’s OpenDoc framework, Saratoga, California-based Newfire aims to ride what it hopes is a VRML 2.0-animation-over- the Internet wave to success. It reckons the market for 3D graphics accelerators will expand from some $20bn this year to around $70bn next year, with the Internet as a delivery vehicle. Heat is the first stage in the 25-employee company’s strategy. It is faster than other VRML plug-ins and Macromedia’s Shockwave, says Newfire, because of something it calls Visible Scene management, whereby at any given point, only those polygons that users can possibly view from that particular point are visible. President and chief executive John Ison admitted that there is a small penalty when the scene is loaded, but it cuts down on the rendering required, and thus increases the speed greatly, the company claims. Newfire’s principal target market is entertainment. It will also look for opportunities in training, design visualization and Web marketing. Newfire’s first revenue product, a Java-based development tool, will enable developers to view their creations in the development environment before deploying them. This is due for release in May. The plug-in has been licensed to hardware companies including Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc and Creative Labs Inc, and the idea is to license the development tool to content developers. An early access program called Newfire Ignition has been set up to speed that process. Newfire’s Heat works with Netscape Communications Corp Navigator running on Windows, Macintosh and Unix platforms and will be available for free download from the company’s Website at the beginning of March.

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