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Multimedia brings users' senses alive with video, stereo and animation.
February 1995: The home of John and Martha Harris is located on a quiet street in Eden Prarie, an affluent suburb of Minneapolis. This evening, something special is happening here and in several hundred thousand other homes nationwide. Multimedia technology has arrived.
The high-resolution video display screen in the Harris' family room displays icons for four categories: entertainment, electronic mail, home control and home office. After selecting entertainment, the Harris family hears a digitized voice that requests input. John requests an onscreen list of Kevin Costner movies and Martha adds, "Only those from 1990 on." The list appears, the couple chooses Costner's award-winning epic, "Dances With Wolves," and the movie begins.
After the movie, it's time for the news-a customized version with national headlines, local news from Minnesota and Arkansas (where Martha grew up), computer-related business news and weather for the upper-Midwest and the Bahamas. (john and Martha are taking a Caribbean vacation next week to escape the bitter Minnesota winter.)
When the news ends, Martha checks her electronic mail to see if she has received any feedback from her publisher about an article she wrote, "Applying Inheritance and Encapsulation Theory to Parenting," for Object Systems Journal.
After Martha is finished, John opens the home office workspace to fine-tune the computer-based training project he is working on for his employer. The presentation encompasses digital hi-fi sound, animation, hypertext and a fulltext retrieval indexing system. The animation sequence John works on tonight is a three-dimensional graphic representation of how data moves from memory, through cache and into the program registers of an Intel 80686 microprocessor. After john is satisfied that he has the animation sequence working perfectly, he decides it's time for bed. Before he turns in for the night, John makes one final selection from the screen, home control, to schedule automatic timing of the house lights, the coffee maker and the heater in his car for the next morning.
Multimedia and standards. Scenarios similar to this one (maybe not quite like this one) are being discussed at meetings at IBM, MicroSoft, AT&T and Data General. The question is a simple one: Who will establish the computer standards necessary that will incorporate computer, video, and telecommunication technology that will define our work place and home environments into the 21st century? Proprietary multimedia systems have already arrived on the Macintosh and Commodore Amiga personal computers (PCs). But who will build the first open architecture multimedia platform based on IBM-compatible PCs using the …