CEBIT - Attendees will also see new PCs, screens, gadgets

Attendees at the Cebit trade show next week will see a range of products and services for non-business use.

Cebit is not just about IT for the enterprise: exhibitors will also be showing new consumer products and services.

Microsoft will reveal details of Origami, its project for a mobile PC running Windows XP. The company plans to say little about the device itself, leaving that to Intel and Samsung Electronics. Intel would say nothing about Origami for now, but a spokesman promised more information at a news conference on Thursday.

Other manufacturers of tiny PCs are more forthcoming, even if their products are not mobile.

Shuttle will be showing the just-announced Shuttle XPC Barebone SD36G5M, which looks less like a PC and more like a miniature hi-fi system. The SD36G5M has a built-in display for information about track lengths and numbers, is compatible with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition, and is Shuttle's first to be compatible with Intel's Viiv technology for multimedia PCs, the company said. It is due in stores the week following the show.

When you have a multimedia PC to surf the Web, it's a shame that so many Web sites are text and pictures. Audiantis GmbH hopes to make sites more interesting by adding streaming audio commentary. Its iSound system creates a continuous audio connection between a Web server and Web site visitors so that users receive their own, individual audio stream, according to Chief Technology Officer Hardy Krause. Using JavaScript embedded in the Web pages, iSound allows visitors to start, stop and change audio feeds in near-real time by hovering the cursor over articles and advertisements. They can also highlight text and have it read to them in several languages.

The server software includes the text-to-speech engine, although companies must license the translation engine separately. The server software is available for Windows and Linux, Krause said. One server processor will support up to 75 feeds, so busy Web sites would have to run it across a cluster of servers, Krause said.

Audiantis will show the beta version of iSound at Cebit. The final product is due around April. It will cost from US$213 for an entry-level version that supports three parallel audio streams, up to hundreds of thousands of euros depending on how many streams are required.

Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. may not be such a big name as Microsoft or Intel, but its screen is much bigger. Chi Mei will be showing its giant 8 million pixel V562D1 LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor for the first time at Cebit. It weighs 30 kilograms, measures 142 centimeters across the diagonal and has a resolution of 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels, four times the resolution of an HDTV. The company plans to put the screen into production in the third quarter.

For technophiles who like to get out, car manufacturer BMW is showing an extension to its in-car navigation system that transmits maps to the driver's mobile phone. Recognizing that good parking places are hard to find, the navigation system now uses live information from BMW Online to find a free parking space. And once parked, the car transmits a map to the driver's mobile phone showing the route between its current position and, say, a restaurant -- helping drivers reach their ultimate destination and find their car again afterwards.

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