AGOCG logo
Graphics Multimedia VR Visualisation Contents
Training Reports Workshops Briefings Index

Report on the Cebit Show 1997

General Comments

Cebit is the major IT show for both the German and the European markets and is the largest IT show to be held in the world. Some 25 exhibition halls showed all aspects of IT from games through business to telecommunications applications.

The world comes to Cebit to show its wares, over 7000 exhibitors filled the halls with the largest number coming from Taiwan (424 companies), USA (391 companies) and the UK having some 292 exhibitors.

Plasma Displays

A number of the leading Japanese display manufacturers were showing flat screen plasma display panels. The leading suppliers are Conrac, Fujitsu, NEC and Mitsubishi. Conrac, Fujitsu and Mitsubishi were showing 1 metre diagonal displays with a thickness of about 5 cm. The typical viewing angle of all these displays was of the order of 160 degrees.


About three year ago the University of Illinois demonstrated at SIGGRAPH a concept they called a CAVE, the definition of a CAVE is a room sized immersive virtual environment for 3 - 5 users.

The German National Research Centre for Information Technology had developed this concept a stage further and showed a portable CAVE with further developments. These included the incorporation of an 8 channel audio sound system and an acoustic floor which generates a sensation of vibrations and motion.

The stated aims of the project were to build direct body centred human interactions within virtual worlds and to develop individual and team situations.

The technical realisation was achieved in the following way. Three wall sized rear projection systems are installed orthogonal to the floor projection, each with a size of 3 x 3 metres. A dual pipe Onyx IP generates 8 user controlled images. The user position is tracked by sensors. The display resolution is 1024 x 680 pixels for each of the 4 displays. They are refreshed at 120hz. An 8 channel surround sound system is incorporated in the system as well as an acoustical floor which transmitted vibrations and up to 2 mm of motion to the floor in each area.

The system can import live video sequences along with prefabricated animations and virtual worlds. Virtual actors are introduced into the stage either in an interactive way or a pre-produced sequence of events. The interaction by the participants is achieved with joysticks (3D pointers).

The display included the engineering sequence for the VW Sharon space person mover and sets which included fire and ice scenes. The vibration effects gave an added dimension to the experience.

Printer Developments

The two most significant developments at the show in the printer field were the launch of the 1440 dot per inch Inkjet printer from Epson and the Photographic Inkjet cartridges from Hewlett Packard.

The Epson development follows the trend for higher print densities that has been typical of the industry for the last four years.

The HP development allows the user to achieve photographic quality images cheaply. To achieve photographic image quality, the user needs to print with a special ink cartridge on special paper using special software. These developments in printer quality however are causing the main photographic companies to look to their own market developments and this entry by HP is sure to cause Kodak, Agfa etc to increase their own complementary work in these areas.

Colour Fidelity over the Internet

Pantone the leading supplier of colour matching solutions announced a range of colour standards for the Internet to allow the users to ensure the images designed are the images seen by the users around the world. Pantone's own colour standards for the printing industry are well known and give them the reputation and standing to endorse the Internet development.

Sound Beams

This simple concept converts sound to a series of vibrations which can be felt by the body, rather than heard. The product's producer claims that through this media people with hearing disabilities can feel their first sensation of music through contact with the sound box, or the sound beam. The sound box converts the sound energy to a vibrating surface area large enough for a person to be seated or lie on. The sound beam gives a point of feeling sensation to the user.

Video Capture

Logitec (manufacturer of mice) scanners released a new product for capturing video pictures from an ordinary VCR recorder, camcorder or TV. With this an image of 640 x 480 pixel is transferred into any program and within the £100 price you can use the resulting image in any publisher program and also morph between images and bend twist, stretch and distort the image. The price reduction and capture availability at £100 is the most dramatic price fall in these technique in about 6 years.

Video Editing Systems

Avid have responded to the growing impact of Media 100 by offering NT or Mac based editing. The system allows for timeline editing with frame accurate trimming and full screen playback. The data content of the image can be as high as 300 Kbyte per frame and the user can select the compression level used for digitising. The software includes over 100 special real time effects, four track audio monitoring and can create real time and rolling titles.

Bill Boffin