Don't have a digital camera? No problem
(IDG) -- NEW YORK -- Intel and Eastman Kodak have taken the wraps off the first fruits of their digital-photography alliance -- a CD-ROM product and service designed to let people who do not have digital cameras transform their photos into digitized images that can be manipulated on their computers.
The two companies also announced they are working on digital-camera components that will be sold to photography-equipment manufacturers, though they did not specify a time frame for the plan.
Meanwhile, the new product, called Kodak Picture CD, is aimed at developing new markets for Intel processing technology and Kodak photography products, while acting as a bridge product to a future where most consumers and businesses have digital cameras.
To get Picture CD, camera users take their film to a local photo shop and check off a box on the film-processing envelope when dropping off the film for photofinishing. It will cost about $8.95 to $10.95 extra, over and above what it costs to develop the regular film. What consumers get back is not only their traditionally developed film but all the photos stored digitally on a CD.
The CD also has photo-retouching software on it. Users can pop the CD into a CD player attached to their PC, and use the software to retouch the photo with various shading, cropping, and humorous distorting effects. It's also being touted by Kodak and Intel officials as a good way to keep photos stored and organized.
Officials said businesses that don't want to lay out cash for digital cameras or scanners right now can use the Picture CD service and software to incorporate photos into newsletters, company documents, and even e-mail attachments.
The two companies first announced their plans to work together about five months ago.
"We have a shared vision and that shared vision will allow us to seek new growth opportunities together," said Craig Barrett, president and chief executive officer of Intel, at a press conference here.
The company alliance includes a technology cross-licensing agreement that covers Intel rasterization and CMOS processing technology, as well as Kodak film and camera technology, officials noted.
"The joint development and cross-licensing agreement ... let's us avoid quibbling about technical details and move forward quickly," said George Fisher, chairman and chief executive officer of Kodak.
The two companies are developing core building blocks and open standards for digital cameras that will be supplied to the entire market, Barrett said.
Camera manufacturers will be able to put together digital cameras with these components in a similar way to how PC makers today use Intel's processors and other components to built network servers, Barrett said.
Company officials were vague about what the components would be. However, both companies believe that future cameras will use the new CMOS technology Intel has been developing, which the chip maker hopes will replace the CCD (charge-coupled device) technology that is standard for digital cameras today and which Kodak uses, according to Willy Shih, president of the digital and applied imaging unit of Kodak.
The benefits for Intel and Kodak that would arise from a burgeoning digital photography market are clear -- greater demand for Intel processing technology and a new market for Kodak, analysts here said.
"The market for PC chips is reaching a plateau and Intel is seeing more competition from companies like AMD [Advanced Micro Devices]" said Ron Glaz, senior research analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. "The question is, who's going to be interested in getting this [product]?" Glaz said.
For their part, Intel and Kodak are testing Picture CD in Salt Lake City and Indianapolis; it will be rolled out to the public in the first quarter next year in North America, followed by worldwide rollout. Depending on the results of the tests in the two cities, the companies will tweak the features in the CD-based software, as well as the price.
In addition to cameras, there are a range of potential products for digital imaging technology, according to company officials.
"Imagine if your palm PC could scan a credit card and could simultaneously take your picture and imprint it on the card for verification at the checkout counter," said Kodak's Fisher.
For photo shops, Intel and Kodak are paving the way for Picture CD by installing new Intel equipment in Kodak's Qualex photofinishing labs, which provide wholesale photofinishing services to U.S. photo retailers.
The equipment being installed at Qualex's labs includes dual Intel Pentium II chip-based servers and workstations, along with new Kodak film scanners and CD writers, according to the companies.
The Intel equipment will let photofinishers produce Picture CDs and other film digitization products and services, including Internet uploads through Kodak's existing PhotoNet Online service and through a new America Online "You've Got Pictures" feature, scheduled for rollout on AOL around the end of the year.
Plans also are under way to incorporate Intel technology into Kodak's line of Picture Maker kiosks, currently numbering about 15,000 around the world. These kiosks will be equipped to handle Picture CDs and the related software for consumers who do not have PCs but want to use the technology to retouch photos themselves and send them to other consumers on the Internet, according to Kodak's Shih.
Picture CD will work on any PC running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT. It produces JPEG images, which can be brought in to Macintosh computers. The companies have plans to release a Mac version, according to Shih, but do not have a time frame.
Marc Ferranti is New York Bureau Chief for the IDG News Service.
Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.