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Interact + PCIT '99 Exclusive
Following last month's review of Interact + PCIT '99, fineArt forum showcases the buzz of the conference activities with the highlights.

Interact - Australia's largest IT business event

Interact '99 + PC IT exhibition held at the Melbourne Convention Centre from 31 Aug - 3 Sept is expected to generate post-show expenditure in the region of $1 billion, confirming it as Australia's largest IT business event.

Last year's statistical analysis revealed that the total estimated IT budget of visitors was $2.65 billion. They estimated spending over $600 million in the next financial year on products and services at the show.

"We were pleased with the number of visitors who attended the exhibition but were absolutely delighted with the business generated at the show," said Noel Gray, general manager of Australian Exhibition Services.

As part of the exhibition, awards were given on 1st September for Corporate IT Best Product Award to Network Disk Server ND520, The Best Multimedia Product: BeOS 4.5, Best Personal Computing Product: 3Com Palm IIIe. The best Product of Show was given to NetGear Network Storage Server from NetGear.

Conference Highlights

Entrepreneurial web-directory honoured at Australian Internet Awards

LookSmart, a category-based Web directory, founded in 1995 by Australian husband and wife team, Evan Thornley and Tracey Ellery was presented the inaugural Most Entrepreneurial Internet Achievement award at the 4th Australian Financial Review/Australian Internet Awards.

LookSmart proudly declares its mission to be "To create the dominant collection of quality granular content on the planet". The site's highlights include; nearly one million unique URLs created and updated by 160 professional Web editors. It is a Top 25 Web site and is utilised by top Web properties including MSN, Netscape, @Home, and 220 ISPs.

Organised as part of Interact '99, the awards honoured Australia's best web sites in 19 categories ranging from sports, to youth to professional and community-based websites. A record of 2,500 nominations was received and a total of 13,800 votes lodged for Most Popular Australian website. The winner of that category was Sausage Software, a world-renowned developer of Internet tools and Java applications, including the HotDog Web authoring products and the eVend Web commerce system.

An independent panel chose this year's winners after three rounds of intensive judging. Judges included more than one hundred professionals from the media, banking, legal, academia, technology, and entertainment and business sectors.

IT Trends '99 Seminar

Online or Out of Here
Rob Hartnett, Group Manager
Infosentials Limited, one of Australia's leading multimedia information and
communications organisations

Rob Harnett likens Web surfing today to going to a shopping centre where the customer is only allowed to drive a Ford at 100km/h to enter. But first, he needs to pay for parking and a nominal entry fee prior to entering the Centre to make any purchases.

His analogy is simple, even before a surfer accesses any information, he is required to invest heavily in an appropriate system. The day bandwidth is broadened and access to the Web is almost free of charge, is when things will brighten up for e-commerce. It has to be convenient, economical and efficient to appeal as an alternative form of purchase.

"At the moment, we tend to overestimate the take up rate of the Web. Web developers need to fully understand the opportunities new media holds. It's all about being interactive and satisying customers needs," he concluded.

Regional IT and Communications Conference

Held at the University of Ballarat, this conference discussed the projected development and re-positioning of Ballarat from a gold mining town into an information technology hub.

"A regional portal presence on the Web has emerged as a potentially important agent to raise the profile of the region and providing cohesion and direction for the wide range of interests that are jostling for position and visibility on the Web.

The challenge is to derive a regional portal that is economically sustainable, has participation and 'buy-in' from all interests and regional stakeholders, and serves every sector's needs," said Ross Davey, Executive Officer, Centre for Electronic Commerce and Communications.

An exciting development was the launch of the Chamber of Electronic Commerce which aims to develop a regional portal; and provide genuine community efforts to advance electronic access to business, services and information regionally and globally.

The University is also home to the Greenhill Enterprise Centre located within the Ballarat Technology Park, which provides a nurturing environment for small IT businesses involved primarily in information technology research and development.

This R & D focused Centre provides an environment specifically designed for; small and medium sized technology companies to start up businesses. growth operations that are moving into hi- tech manufacturing with strong IT research components and short term accommodation for project teams.

Product Highlights

Swedish manufacturer, C Technologies has developed a portable hand-held scanner with added capabilities. The 100g C-Pen can read and store information quickly and accurately. The mobile information collector uses digital camera technology and is equipped with a mini-format digital camera and an advanced computer with a powerful memory.

It has the ability to scan upto 100 pages of text, and works very much like the simple highlighter. All the user has to do is to move the scanner over lines of text as the camera takes pictures of the text. These images are then transformed to text via OCR (Optical Character Recognition). The pen reads text at a speed of 100 characters per/sec and takes 50 pictures/sec.

It carries 8Mb of flash memory, displays text at 7 - 18 points, has a 4-row full graphical display. Scanned text can be stored in the C-Pen or cordlessly transferred to a Windows 95/98, or Windows NT based PC using infrared communication. It reads well in software like Word and Excel. Added features include the C-Dictionary which allows instant translation from one language to another and an address book.

Interactive Pictures - Immersive Photography
Interactive Pictures Corporation has developed IPIX technology which can seamlessly remap two opposing photographs into a single 360-degree digital image. The two 180-degree photographs of a scene or object are taken with conventional or digital cameras fitted with a fish-eye lens. Using software to combine two 180 degree photographs viewers can use the mouse to navigate within the photograph and beyond its borders, left, right, up or down. This replicates the vision one would achieve by Œpanning' with the use of only two still digital images.

The possibilities that IPIX has in store are exciting. IPIX uses the example of the vision created by using two still images of Princess Diana's car crash site which was aired on CNN for a full ten-minutes while anchors described the events live. The vision that was shown was an IPIX tour created from two single photographs. IPIX Corporation is currently developing software and hardware capabilities for immersive videography and expect to launch a product by 2000.

In true borderless spirit of the Internet, etranslate offers an end to end service to translate and globalise existing websites. It utilises a network of 5,000 language professionals in 80 countries to translate existing websites without losing its impact but yet ensuring cultural and language sensitivities are adhered to. Upon commissioning of a project, a translator is appointed based on language skills and technical expertise, documents are sent for translation electronically and thereafter examined by an editor and proofreader for quality checks.

Besides web translation, e-translate also offers cultural consultancy, multi-lingual multimedia development and multi-lingual voice response services. Translation services can be conducted electronically and thorugh its website 24-hour access to its services.

Other products at Interact '99

Thumbs Plus

Developed by TradePlus International, ThumbsPlus is an effective image management software ideal for storing and archiving images, metafiles, fonts and movies. It allows flexibility in locating, viewing, editing, printing and organising files to your specification.

Besides creating thumbnails, ThumbsPlus can create contact sheets, edit, convert and organise files (single or in batches), print catalogues, display slide shows, handle off-line media and create thumbnail web pages. Search facilities include user definable fields, keyword assignment and 'find similar images'. It works equally well for viewing pre-developed image banks or creating personal databases.

Smart Flexi-Keyboard
The Smart Flexi-Keyboard is designed for industrial, laboratory and office use. The portable, resilient keyboard can withstand temperatures from -25 to 70 degrees Celsius and most hazards. The keyboard features the 102 IBM-MFII-standard keys compatible with AT and PS/2 systems. Ideal for use in factories, mining, construction, outdoors and laboratories, the Smart Flex I is waterproof, rolls and fits into a small case making it portable.

In quick response to the e-online shopping buzz, Jumbomall offers an economical e-shop front in an online mall. Simple and easy to navigate, an enterprise simply goes through a series of steps with help to be listed part of the Jumbomall shopping centre.


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