Magazine Article


Strange Bedfellows

Uh oh.

Michael McEnaney,

Strange Bedfellows


By Mike McEnaney

March 2001

I have literally just moved my snack tray back to it's upright and locked position after another interesting PMA and I'm thinking about the current state of the imaging industry.

Orlando was an interesting location for this year's show — I got to spend time with Mickey, Goofy and the gang and I hadn't even left the pressroom yet.

Some wonderful dinnertime conversations about what companies are planning to create new divisions and the different photo companies they are looking to steal people from. Let's all hope they get the right man/woman for the job. Nothing worse than covering a company that doesn't have anything to cover.

Lots of folks walking around the show floor in a bit of a daze, looking like those kids on the ads that read, "Take This Kid to Camp for the Summer.." The landscape is starting to remind everyone of the show "Survivor." They started out offering up literally anything to survive then realized they had to form solid alliances to stay in the game. The shrewd, and solidly backed, are the ones currently winning the immunity challenges in this show.

Hidden Handshakes
What I'm getting at is this...the technological explosion continues in this industry and, as a result, some interesting business partnerships are developing. What that indicates is a preparedness to take this thing to the next level. Last year we had Olympus and Polaroid joining forces for a digital camera that prints images on the spot. Odd, but a breakthrough with loads of interesting implications.

Now we have a Kodak/Olympus alliance with the pair recently announcing a partnership to work together to promote improved digital printing of images so that consumers will be able to find better ways of storing and printing pictures. Huh?

PTN is told between the two companies there are over 2,000 patents related to digital imaging. I would imagine a fairly interesting little product is hiding in this agreement somewhere.

Pixel Magic is really getting around as well, announcing an agreement with Sony to develop software for their new (and, as of yet unnamed) line of Digital Photo Finishing Systems. This is interesting when you stop to consider the kiosk possibilities here...Pixel Magic of course already has one and Sony seems moments away from one. Hmmm.
Pixel Magic also seems to regularly come up in conversations about Applied Science Fiction (ASF) and their "dry" film processing system turning up in kiosk form. Nothing signed, sealed or delivered but these two are up to something. As a matter of fact, ASF is chatting with a number of companies about this "chemical free" processing technique — and they ain't all in the photo industry.

Back to Kodak again for a minute...what is all this steamy talk about Kodak and a company called LifeFX, Inc? These guys apparently develop, what they call, Stand-In Virtual People from photographs for use on the Internet. These Virtual People are essentially life-like, three-dimensional digital representations of people that can move, talk and express emotion. Under the terms of the agreement, Kodak will have rights to process two-dimensional pictures into these personal LifeFX Stand-In Virtual People. Talk about adding a little zest to the art of e-mailing!

Making Nice, Nice
Obviously, in order to get to the next level it's important to leverage everyone's strengths. Now that the industry has everyone's undivided attention, it's time to roll out the real show stoppers. The last time we saw this kind of camaraderie and communication in the photo industry was when the Advanced Photo System was born.