Firm Aims to Simplify Digital Photography

Article excerpt

Eran Steinberg, an engineer and computer expert in Millbrae, Calif., has an opinion about digital photography: "A camera is a camera, so why should it be

more complicated to take pictures simply because the technology is more advanced?"

A growing number of us will likely ask such questions in the next few years. Public interest in digital photography is rapidly growing globally, according to International Data Corp., a leading industry research firm, which says worldwide digital camera shipments will reach 4.7 million units in 1999 and grow to 22 million units annually by 2003. Prices for the cameras - including the high-resolution "megapixel" models - are falling, which should accelerate that growth.

Mr. Steinberg, the founder and chief technology officer of FotoNation Inc., a software company dedicated to connecting digital cameras to PCs and to the Internet, makes a good point. It's not always easy to figure out the interconnection of camera to PC, and transferring digital images can range from mildly annoying to downright maddening. (If you don't believe me, just try sending a high-resolution TIFF image file over a 33.6k modem hookup.)

His company has a great deal of experience in this field: It produced the popular FotoDeveloper software-development kit, which facilitates the simple connectivity of more than 100 digital camera models to any PC application, including Java clients.

Microsoft Corp. is including FotoNation technology in its pending release of the Windows 2000 operating system. Other leading digital-imaging firms including Nikon, Canon and Adobe Systems also use FotoNation products.

Tomorrow, FotoNation will announce a new software program, called FotoManager Express, designed to simplify and accelerate the transfer of digital-camera photographs directly to the Internet.

Mr. Steinberg says this is the first software enabling digital-camera users to bypass the traditional, cumbersome procedures of transferring and saving pictures on a computer's hard drive prior to sending them to a designated Web site. Instead, Web sites incorporating FotoManager Express will identify which digital camera is connected to their computer and pull images directly onto the Web site, via their existing Internet connection. Then, users can easily receive prints via photo-processing services, e-mail or from their own printers. …