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Booting up in multimedia.

Who stole the Glenlivet?" my computer asked me the other day. No, I hadn't overindulged in the single malt. I was merely trying out the floppy disk bound into my June 22 issue of Forbes.

Forbes included the EGA-compatible disk in some 700,000 copies of the magazine. Glenlivet was one of 10 advertisers that ran screens of informative and entertaining messages on a disk called the "Deciding Factor."

You can, for example, learn more than you ever wanted about the 1992 Corvette - in brilliant four-color graphics. Or, you can "test drive" a Jaguar, analyze your financial portfolio, find a hotel room in Cleveland, or pick and choose among estate-planning strategies.

For those 10 advertisers willing to spend $57,920 for this interactive opportunity, the disk is probably a good investment - particularly for the publicity this first-time effort garnered in the trade press. But the static images of the Forbes disk make one long for a multimedia experience. What are the possibilities of marrying video and audio capabilities with traditional computer technologies?

According to a just-released market study from Daratech Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.), Autodesk Inc. is the multimedia technology leader in CAD/CAM.

Autodesk has produced a CD-ROM sampler of full-motion synthesized video that is "nothing short of breathtaking," according to the Daratech report. There are building walk-throughs and flybys, product visualizations, and even cartoons.

Other CAE vendors are equally active in multimedia. Intergraph Corp. is exploring full-motion video-to-document manufacturing processes: assemblies, tool setups, and machining - all available on-line for reference or training.

Computervision plans training manuals on CD-ROMs that incorporate text, audio, full-motion video, and even windows into applications. The company believes full-motion video will be available for CAD/CAM applications within two years.

Cimlinc Inc. offers Linkage software for distributing multimedia work instructions. The product allows users to image existing paper manufacturing forms, then transform and modify data, while integrating audio and full-motion video from external sources.

Workstations offer multimedia platforms as well. Silicon Graphics Iris Indigo workstations run full-motion video with synchronized stereo sound.

Forbes's single-malt mystery on disk offered neither audio nor full-motion video, but was instead a visually impressive interactive variation on print advertising. But the possibilities for a magazine like ME are exciting: FEA demo disks bound into the magazine, for example. Now, if we could just convince 10 advertisers to pay $58K each.


COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Mechanical Engineers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Beardsley, Charles
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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