As a technology, Compact Disk-Interactive systems combine the advantage of mixed media digitally recorded on a 650Mb hard disk – sound, data, graphics and video – with various hardware features that enable the user to take an element of control over the material. Manufacturers such as Philips NV and Sony Corp, have also been astute […]
As a technology, Compact Disk-Interactive systems combine the advantage of mixed media digitally recorded on a 650Mb hard disk – sound, data, graphics and video – with various hardware features that enable the user to take an element of control over the material. Manufacturers such as Philips NV and Sony Corp, have also been astute enough to agree on a standard for disks and hardware which will start appearing in Europe next year (CI No 1,557) as they take on Intel’s rival Digital Video Interactive standard. Initially, the technology will be expensive: the CD-I drive will come in at around $1,000, and the disks themselves at between $20 and $50 – but this is expected to fall in the same way that audio compact disk systems have. However, the success of CD-I in the educational, training and consumer markets at which it is aimed will depend to a larger extent on the so-called studios that are being set up to write applications for CD-I. Around 40 of these studios have already been established – most in the US, with the UK and France also strong – and this week saw the official creation of a Belgian entity backed by Philips and based in Charleroi, the once strong industrial town now in the throes of replacing the staple industries that have all but died out. Apart from Philips, which holds 25%, International Creative Digital Image’s shares are held by the television production company Little Big One, which also holds 25%, the home video rental chain Super Club with 25%, the local Cockerill Sambre steelworks – clearly visible from Digital Images windows and responsible for much re-investment in the town’s economy – holds 12.5%, while SRIW, the regional organisation set up to guide investment in Wallonia has 12.5%. Robert Paltiel, who describes his job function within Digital Image as roughly the equivalent of a film director, will be responsible for liaising between clients of large customised CD-I systems and Digital Image’s team of software developers that actually create the applications. He says the first product from his company will be a demo disk designed to show people exactly what it can do. Paltiel says that current applications tend to be dominated by quite sickly computerised Sesame Street-type productions showing children how to paint without ever using a paintbrush. But there is clearly some big money in CD-I somewhere: French car manufacturer Renault, for example, is using a UK-developed system to overcome the problem of training its thousands of approved mechanics around France – a method it reckons is much less expensive, and as effective, as inviting them all to lengthy training seminars. And Paltiel says Digital Image is in negotiation with several clients now for large tailor-made systems – one is in tourism, one a major sports federation, one in industry and the other a large games manufacturer.