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Office products update.

Read this fast, before the equipment becomes outdated.

Wait a minute. Before you plug in that new computer, copier, phone or fax, consider this possibility: it's already outdated, outmoded--or just plain out. To keep up with the ever-evolving technology of tomorrow, you had better be willing to let go of today's.

Remember those old telephones that only made phone calls? Sure, they had a cute little ring and you could talk with the person on the other end, but that was it. AT&T now offers the VideoPhone 2500, the world's first full-color, motion videophone allowing callers to see each other face-to-face.

The idea for video communications is not entirely new; AT&T first proposed the concept of the Picturephone at the 1964 World's Fair, and videoconferencing (using digital networks) has been around for years. What is new is the price and accessibility. The VideoPhone 2500 uses existing telephone lines to send and receive video calls for the same price as voice calls. Installation of the VideoPhone is no different from that of a conventional telephone; you simply plug it in and dial.

AT&T predicts video phones will be as popular as cordless and cellular phones within 10 years. "A whole generation of young people are demanding video technology, and I believe that by the year 2001, visual communications will become as important to consumers as wireless communications," says Kenneth Bertaccini, president of AT&T Consumer Products.

The AT&T VideoPhone was developed at the Indianapolis-based AT&T Bell Laboratories. Though some of the components for the VideoPhone 2500 were designed elsewhere, the design, specifications, software and plastic all were developed in Indianapolis. The real challenge was integration of all the technology into a cohesive unit that would function with standard telephone lines.

Brian Tuite, design team leader for the project, likens the challenge to squeezing a sewer full of information through a garden hose.

The VideoPhone is the first in a series of video products and services AT&T intends to introduce over the next several months. The product will be available by mid-summer at AT&T Phone Centers and major retailers for $1,499.

As if the VideoPhone 2500 doesn't make that old string-can contraption on your desk look sad enough, AT&T also has introduced its new Merlin PFC Telephone, the first multiline business phone that handles voice and fax calls simultaneously. Small enough to fit on a desk corner, the telephone alleviates the problems of congestion and privacy associated with shared fax machines. AT&T says the explosive growth in fax transmitting will demand desktop faxing. "Desktop faxing in the 1990s will become as prevalent as desktop computing," says Carole Katz, Merlin's marketing director.

Don't think that old phone is the only thing outdated in your office. Look around at the mounds of paper slowly creeping into the ever smaller space you call your desk.

Maybe it's time for a new filing system, a system that you control--a paperless system. Technology has moved the seemingly elusive claim of a paperless office one step closer to reality as new optical-disc storage systems are quickly gaining acceptance in today's work environment.

Professional Office Systems Inc., headquartered in Fort Wayne, is marketing the Eye Com 100, an electronic filing cabinet designed to reduce the amount of space and time normally taken to track numerous documents. The Eye Com 100 scans incoming documents ranging in size from business cards to legal paper, assigning them to a "filing cabinet" or "cabinets," where they are permanently burned into an optical disc. Once stored in the system, the document can easily be retrieved, manipulated and printed out within seconds. Refiling becomes a thing of the past," says Roger Bruck, president and owner of Professional Office Systems.

Optical-disc storage systems can greatly reduce the amount of paper circulating through an office, notes Critch Greaves of Fort Wayne-based Indiana Office Systems. Thousands upon thousands of documents can fit onto a 5 1/4-inch disc, which means users can add some of their old metal filing cabinets to the list of obsolete office fixtures.

Documents can be scanned or faxed into the optical-disc system, and can exit the system in several ways, including printers and fax machines. The text from documents even can be imported into word-processing programs for editing.

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. recently took a step toward going paperless using the new IBM Image Plus system in its accounts-payable department. Like the Eye Com system, IBM Image Plus captures information from paper and transforms it into an electronic file to be stored, manipulated, distributed and printed from a work station or network. The integration of electronic imaging and data processing allows an organization like Lilly to handle a greater number of customer inquiries in less time, with increased productivity.

So your rotary dial phone and your rusty filing cabinets are out, but you're up-to-date with your PC, right? Wrong.

"Why does the world need a new computer," you ask? Paul Buroker Jr. of the Evansville-based Micro Dynamics Corp. thinks Steve Jobs and five other former Apple Computer engineers have the answer: the NeXT computer.

Billed as the "Third Revolution," the NeXT computer moves from personal computing of the 80s to interpersonal computing of the 90s, enabling groups, not just individuals, to be more productive and creative through technology.

The Indiana University School of Journalism faculty now uses NeXT machines to communicate between the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses. Jim Brown, associate dean of the school in Indianapolis, reports the system has virtually eliminated campus mail (or "snail mail," as he refers to it) between offices.

In less than a second, electronic mail, voice messages and other documents can be sent and received, making geographical distance between colleagues at different campuses a non-issue. "This is it, the best, as far as I'm concerned," says Brown.

OK, the phone, the file cabinets and the PC are out. It seems James Leonard of South Bend-based Business Communication Center sums up this ever-evolving technology issue best: "The future is here; at least for now...until it changes."

But don't worry, not everything in your office is outdated. Those pens and pencils still work fine.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
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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Title Annotation:Office Design & Products
Author:Marbaugh, David
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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