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Photo software comes full circle

Interactive Pictures and Kodak will work together to offer a digital camera and accessory kit that creates 360-degree panoramas from digital photographs.

    Interactive Pictures and Kodak will work together to offer a digital camera and accessory kit that will allow users to create 360-degree panoramas from digital photographs, in an attempt to transform digital photography into a commercially useful medium.

    The kit will be targeted at the "prosumer," or technically proficient consumer, as well as small businesses like real-estate and travel agencies which can benefit from showing interactive, 360-degree panoramas on their Web sites, the two companies said today.

    To date, consumer-level digital cameras have offered little more than the novelty of emailing photographs to family and friends, but no practical application for the home office or business. Today's announcement from gives prosumers and commercial users a reason to feature digital photography to their Web sites.

    The kit will include the Kodak Digital Science DC200 "megapixel" digital camera and Interactive Pictures' imaging accessories: a "fisheye" lens, tripod, mounted rotator, and IPIX software. The IPIX software takes two 185-degree pictures and combines them, eliminating the overlapping area to create an online panorama.

    Interactive Pictures develops products based on its IPIX technology, which creates virtual environments with unlimited viewing perspectives by combining the viewpoints of several photographs. Kodak has been ramping up its digital imaging efforts, last week announcing the DC200, a low-cost megapixel camera, and yesterday announcing plans to acquire a stake of PictureVision, a digital imaging start-up.

    Ed Lewis, vice president of marketing for Interactive Pictures, said that a year ago, the same kit would have cost $20,000. The kit is expected to reach retail at the end of March for around $1,500.

    Lewis said that Kodak will eventually take over part of the manufacturing of the kit.

    "The ability to make immersive images is a great way to accelerate the digital camera market for Kodak," Lewis said. "They realize that we have created a whole industry out there, and they see an opportunity to expand that market.