Tech Industry

Kodak, Intel to unveil disc product

Eastman Kodak and Intel will offer a new CD-based product which allows viewing, printing, and emailing photographs from PCs.

Kodak and Intel today announced their plans to offer consumers digitized photographs on CDs and to elaborate on a digital camera technology based on a lower-cost design, the first fruit of their six-month-old digital imaging alliance.

As first reported by CNET News.com, the two companies will launch Kodak Picture CDs, low-priced CD-ROM disks intended to store digitized versions of photographs taken with a traditional camera and film. Intel architecture will also be used in Kodak Picture Maker kiosks, which allow traditional photographers access to digital imaging without using a computer.

The goal is to make digital pictures more palatable to the average consumer, who will be able to access digital images either through a high-end, high-powered PC, or through the Picture CD-ROMs and Intel-based retail kiosks. Toward this end, the two companies are launching a $150 million marketing campaign with the tag line: "Cool technology, Warm moments."

"If digital imaging is easy, affordable and fun for consumers, we believe it will spur PC demand and contribute to the ultimate goal of creating new users and new uses for the PC platform," said Intel CEO Craig Barrett, at the kickoff event.

Under the Picture CD plan, original images will be scanned, eventually using Intel-based technology. The digitized images can then be edited, manipulated, and printed via PC or kiosks at retail stores.

Digital imaging software giant Adobe has developed the software for Picture CD, which holds one roll of 35-mm film. Using Adobe imaging software, Kodak Picture CD users will be able to add visual effects, convert images to black and white, add text and captions to pictures, create slideshow presentations, and print single or multiple pictures.

"This will open up digital photography to the traditional photography market," said a source close to the two companies, noting that the CD-ROMs will store imaging applications in addition to the digitized images themselves.

"There's a lot of advantages to using CD-ROM," he said. "It's much more robust than floppies, there are more things you can do with it. You don't have to compress images as much."

When the contours of Intel-Kodak pact were first outlined last April, it was seen as a significant step in making digital imaging more accessible and inexpensive for consumers. Now Intel and Kodak are trying to execute that vision.

"It would be cool to walk up with your CDs to a photo kiosk, and with one button you've got a print," according to one analyst familiar with the announcement. "So instead of one-hour photo, it's one-minute photo."

In April, Kodak said it would be revamping some of its labs in preparation for the new program. "The agreement covers...upgrading Kodak's Qualex photo-finishing laboratories with digitization equipment, based on Intel Architecture and new scanning equipment," according to the joint announcement.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.

Additionally, the two companies announced today that they are working together to develop cameras based on Intel's CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) Image Sensor technology, an alternative to the pricey Charge Coupled Device technology featured in today's digital cameras.

"We're in the early stages of product development [of] CMOS solutions," said an Intel spokesman earlier this month.

A digital camera's CMOS-based sensors do not require separate circuits for analog-to-digital signal conversion, according to Intel's PC imaging Web site. Broad application could translate into inexpensive consumer digital cameras.

Also, the currently unwieldy process of downloading and "developing" digital images could be significantly simplified if the camera is based on Intel design architecture, noted one analyst familiar with the announcement. "It all ties together. It dovetails perfectly," he said.

"What's significant is that instead of [having] just another customer [relationship] Kodak and Intel have decided to partner much more closely throughout the design process," said another industry analyst. "This has broad implications--their working together will accelerate product cycles."