Welcome to Reviews OnLine: Digital Frontier conference 1996
Digital Frontier conference
by Rick Smith (March 1996)

I recently attended the Digital Frontier conference at the Kellogg Business School on the Northwestern University campus. It covered the business aspects of the Internet and it was an excellent well- rounded program. The panel discussions were excellent and the facility in Evanston was great. Mark Walsh, Vice President of America On Line, gave the keynote address.

There were many topics presented and since our space is limited, I will concentrate on Intercast, an exciting new technology announced by Intel. This technology had a rapid development cycle as it was prototyped in 1995 and should be a product in late 1996. Like PCI and Indeo, this is another multimedia enabling technology from Intel. Quite simply, Intercast is a new broadcast medium. It combines the interactivity of a PC with the rich content of the Internet and the economics and scalability of broadcast television.

The broadcaster transmits the standard video and audio, along with Web pages, which are inserted into this broadcast signal.. Since the signal is compatible, a standard television would work as it does now and would ignore the additional information. An Intercast enabled PC would receive the signals and the Web pages are then extracted by the receiving computer and cached on the receiving computer's hard disk drive. These signals can be from a broadcast station, cable station and can be recorded on video tape. These Web pages consist of additional content about the program being viewed and appear in the browser Window. Depending on the subject matter of the broadcast, this augmented information can be additional advertising information, more reference material or factual data.

Since this technology requires support from the broadcast media, television content producers, software developers and PC manufacturers, a cross industry group is being formed to address the key issues and formulate a strategy to create a unified presence in the marketplace. Some of the participants in this group are NBC, Viacom, Turner, CNN, QVC, WGBH, America On Line, Asymetrix and Netscape. In the marketing tests, that have been run, the respondents liked the fast, immediate access and the ease of use.

Although this technology is very cool, there are some daunting challenges confronting the Intercast group. They are launching a brand new medium to the world, but this medium should gain greater acceptance as it is compatible with current television and will not force broadcasters to replace their equipment. It will give broadcasters an intermediate step towards a purely digital television system. The group will also have to keep pace with other improvements rapidly being made to the Internet. The best and the brightest people in the world are continuously pushing the "envelope" of Internet technology and applications in many new and exciting directions. Since Intercast was designed as an interactive medium and watching television is generally a passive medium, will consumers want to participate?. Although this technology adds only $100 to the cost of a new computer, a PC is required to use Intercast and unlike TVs or VCRs, most homes in the US do not have a PC.

Intercast is an exciting new technology that gives consumers a fun way to get more from television, can educate and inform them and will help the Internet make even greater inroads into the American home. It will allow more of the interactive power of the PC to be exploited in compelling ways and simply stated, Intercast = Web + TV.

Copyright 1996 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

Article Indexes
  Products Index
  People Index
  Events Index

Product Briefs
Desktop PCs & Servers
  Ergo Thunder Brick 2
Eizo FlexScan Displays
Future Power epower
HP NetServer LXr 8500
Meridian Snap! Server
Digital Cameras
  3Com HomeConnect
Agfa ePhoto 780c
Canon A5 Zoom
Kodak DC265
Minolta 3D 1500
Nikon D1
Olympus C2000
Toshiba PDR-M4 & M5
Notebooks & Mobile
  3Com Palm VII
Fosa Mini Notebook
Pionex Elite
Quantex Celeron Laptop
Sharp Actius PC-A250
Sony F250/F290 Notebooks
Talontek MPC-2000
Mobile/Wireless Communications
  3Com 56K GSM Modem
Novatel Merlin Modem
Xircom Ethernet CompactCard
Mobile Software
  Etak Traffic Touch
DataViz Documents To Go
Softbook E-book System
  Agfa SnapScan Touch
Visioneer Strobe Pro
  Brother MP-21 C Portable
Tektronix Phaser 780
Xerox 480cx
Software & Books
  Avid Cinema for Windows
Caere PageKeeper Pro
Corex Area Code Fix
Docent Outliner
Macmillan Office 2K Books
Paragon FoneSync
Symantec pcAnywhere 9.0
Sybari Antigen 5.5
V-Communications AutoSave
  InFocus 330
Mitsubishi S120
  Club Photo
Intelliquis Traffic Builder
NETSilicon NET+Works
Panasite Web Builder
  Calluna 250 Mb PCCard
Castlewood 2.2Gb ORB
Iomega Clik!
Teac CD-W 54E
Batteries & Power
  Duracell Ultra Battery
Electrofuel PowerPad
Eveready Energizer ACCU
Graphics & Video
  Belkin USB Video Bus
Daeyang VR Headset
Kodak/Intel Picture CD
Nogatech USB TV
Number Nine SR9
  Logitech Cordless mouse
Raritan Switchman
Targus USB MiniMouse
Reviews OnLine Contents About Reviews OnLine Site Index Search Reviews OnLine Site Index Search Reviews OnLine