Sep. 9, 1998 MURRAY HILL, N.J. -- Bell Labs is bringing 360 degrees of David Bowie into full view on the Internet. Users of BowieNet (http://www.bowienet.net), the rock star's new Internet service, will be able to experience intimate live-action views of Bowie thanks to FullView™, a 360-degree panoramic Webcam designed by Bell Labs, the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies. Initial applications call for the camera to be used for in-studio question-and-answer sessions with Bowie, as well as live "you-are-there" rehearsal sessions with Bowie and his band. BowieNet, which launched today, is a joint venture between Concentric Network Corporation and Ultrastar Internet Services and is accessible to music fans throughout the country.
The FullView camera, invented by Vic Nalwa, member of the Bell Labs Multimedia Communications Research Laboratory has a single vantage point and comprises multiple charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras, each aimed at a triangular mirror. The images are recombined through proprietary software so that the full 360-degree live-action view can be displayed along with, say, a 60-degree closeup in any direction the user chooses.
"FullView is designed for just the kinds of live-event programs that BowieNet is set to deliver to its customers. BowieNet users can, say, choose what image of Bowie's band they want to see, and can easily program their own viewing angles, storing individual images as they desire on their PCs," said Vic Nalwa. "BowieNet users will experience the kind of community that Bowie has created in ways that weren't previously possible on the Internet. BowieNet will have the only large-scale seamless 360-degree video experience on the Web." The resolution of FullView is 10 times greater than any comparable panoramic camera, offering 480 x 3200 pixel (columns x rows) resolution in color at 15 frames per second. Bell Labs has been granted 3 patents for FullView. "BowieNet's mission is to deliver a service that combines David Bowie's artistry with unparalleled technical capabilities. BowieNet starts with David Bowie and leads utlimately to an entirely new experience with music and art in general," said Bob Goodale, co-founder of UltraStar and a pioneering Web music producer. "Bell Labs' involvement in BowieNet brings a high level of innovation to what we know will be a new way to see David Bowie." The FullView camera leverages Bell Labs' heritage in image processing. The CCD was invented at Bell Labs in 1969 by Willard Boyle and George Smith and led to the invention of the first solid-state TV camera. The CCD revolutionized the video industry and continues to find new applications in areas as diverse as medicine, security, and astronomy. For more information on the CCD, go to http://www.lucent.com/ideas2/discoveries/telescope/docs/ccd1.html. For more information on Bell Labs multimedia, go to http://www.multimedia.bell-labs.com.
Users wishing to utilize BowieNet as their Internet service provider will pay a fee of $19.95/month. For a limited time the first month's fee will be waived. For those users wishing to remain with their current provider, access to BowieNet can be obtained for a monthly fee of $5.95. Music fans choosing full Internet service will receive a CD-ROM containing the customized browser along with two classic live Bowie audio and video tracks never before released to the public. As a special bonus, there will be an exclusive encrypted newly recorded audio track which will unlock via the Internet. UltraStar is a management technology partnership that specializes in the arena of Internet services, bringing major entertainment, sports and fashion clients to the world in a community-based forum delivered over the Web. UltraStar's philosophy is to allow users a personal experience with their favorite personalities via the Internet. Never before has there been a gateway where the private and public worlds of famous figures has been opened with the continued support, input and materials of each star. Lucent Technologies, headquartered in Murray Hill, N.J., designs, builds and delivers a wide range of public and private networks, communications systems and software, data networking systems, business telephone systems and microelectronic components. Bell Labs is the research and development arm for the company. For more information on Lucent Technologies, visit the company's web site at http://www.lucent.com.
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