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The Future is in the details...
Earlier this year, the Live Picture Corp. of Scotts Valley, California came up with a solution for viewing, distributing, sharing, and printing photo-quality digital images with quick download time and without severe distortion. From virtual malls to real estate; online catalogs and travel tours, web sites now utilizing Live Pictures RealSpace Image Server let web customers see the most intricate details of the products theyre browsing- without having to wait forever for it to load.
Based on the FlashPix image file format and the Internet Imaging Protocol, (IIP), the RealSpace Image Server is the first scalable solution for significantly enhancing image-based applications on the Internet, intranet, and extranet.
The Image Server operates on the principle that only the image detail necessary for viewing is transmitted-not the entire image file. However, when the user zooms, pans, or prints, additional image data is streamed from the server. Both Netscape and Microsoft have announced that IIP will be supported in their future products, and Hewlett-Packard, who currently utilizes the Flashpix format, plans to support IIP in their future Internet servers. Expect to see both of these imaging formats more often as demand for a better graphical environment on the web becomes stronger. When tested on Windows NT 4.0 using version 2.0 of Netscapes Enterprise server, the setup ran quite smoothly- just dont forget to turn your server off first. You have two options of setting up RealSpace. Since I was using Netscape, I chose the Netscape Application Programming Interface (NSAPI) module however those who have non-NSAPI compatible servers have the option of using a Common Gateway Interface (CGI)-based solution.
Live Picture provides several test pictures in .FPX format both for testing your installation and your viewing pleasure. One picture includes a bowl of fruit sitting on a table. At a distance, it looks like something an artist might use as a model. The picture is very clear and quite colorful. Using Live Pictures Flashpix viewer for Netscape, I was able to zoom in on one of the melon halves five times normal size. I was easily able to examine the pulp and black seeds contains in the sliced half. In another demo picture, a fishbowl sitting on a table in front of a window with a curious cat eyeing the goldfish within, I was able to zoom in on the goldfish and explore its scales. When zoomed in extremely close to the fish, viewing the scales was more difficult than the fruit, however. I soon realized it was only due to the normal distortion of the water.
The best example of the RealSpace image server and Flashpix can be found at California Golds Online Catalog.Though a little clunky to navigate through, it shows how both can be used in a Internet commerce environment successfully.
Live Picture has become a pioneer in the delivery of high-quality imagery on the Internet. It has forged close relationships with other pioneers in imaging technology including Hewlett Packard and Kodak. Its only up from here and I foresee a revolution in new ways to portray products and services on the Internet and it all started with Live Picture. There is great potential in education and science for Flashpix and RealSpace as well. Exploring high-quality images of the solar system, satellite photographs, or pictures with thousands of microorganisms will be easy using the Internet.
I highly recommend picking up the RealSpace Image Server today and putting some of your own images on the web. Besides Windows NT, it also supports Hewlett-Packard UNIX (HP-UX), Sun Solaris, Silicon Graphics IRIX, and Apple and IBM AIX platforms. Support for additional platforms is currently under development.