Multimedia Integrated Workstations


MULTIWORKS - 2105

Keywords multimedia workstations


Start Date: 09-JAN-89 / Duration: 36 months

[ contact / participants ]


Objectives and Approach

It is well recognised that the workstation of the 1990s will be characterised by its ability to process multimedia information. This will provide support for the development of new applications that take advantage of the added value provided by combining traditional computer media and information systems with digital video and audio technology.

The goal of MULTIWORKS is to develop an office workstation that manipulates video, graphics, text, voice and sound with facilities comparable to those available today for traditional text and graphics media. This multimedia technology is just emerging in some specialised products. It is foreseen that a high volume market will develop by 1994. Since the results of MULTIWORKS will be available in 1992, there will be enough time for the industrial partners to evaluate them and incorporate some of the MULTIWORKS components in their multimedia products.

MULTIWORKS will be based on European technology and comply with international standards. Full use will be made of high-performance European hardware and design-on-silicon techniques. MULTIWORKS also uses European technology for its operating system, AI environment and applications. The project has a good mix of large and small companies. It is planned to last 4 years with significant results becoming available as spin-offs to the companies involved throughout the duration of the project, rather than just at its end.

Progress and Results

Two system configurations are provided: a high-cost authoring workstation, called MIW, and a low-cost delivery system, called MIW-L. MIW is based on industry-standard open 32-bit architecture with intelligent controllers to manage multimedia devices. The first example of MIW is the CP486 work station available from Olivetti. It is expected that other partners of MULTIWORKS will develop different versions of it with compatible architectures. MIW-L is built around a highly integrated low-cost workstation based on the ARM RISC processor developed by Acorn (UK). Both versions will be able to support the same operating software and applications.

MULTIWORKS provides:

The combination of these features with advances in user interface design will produce a significant increase in user-friendliness and thus usability of the system compared with products currently on the market.

Exploitation

The partners believe there are common industrial interests that can be followed up from the results of the MULTIWORKS project, and have identified six areas that could generate products:

Workstations
It is believed that the industrial outcome of this project will be organised in the companies in the form of a specific product strategy for office applications, covering either some or all of the areas concerning development, marketing, service and support, as well as international promotion.
Basic Hardware Components
Basic hardware components, identified in the 486-based standard platform and in the low-end RISC-based machine, plus integrated VLSI circuits for peripherals, communication and mass storage controllers, can be manufactured and used with the agreement of one or more of the hardware supplier partners.
Hardware Add-Ons
This business will be managed by individual partners according to their specific involvement. However, particular deals could be established between the partners to integrate the add-on features in their standard products. This will be made easier by the common choice of architecture and standard interfaces.
Operating System
This aspect can be conducted separately from the hardware. Indeed, the assured compatibility with a widely used standard like Unix will contribute to building up an extended interchangeable number of advanced applications.
Knowledge-Engineering Tools<
The intention is for the small software companies involved to come to a marketing arrangement with the larger participating companies. Possibilities are obvious for the direct exploitation by all interested partners of developments in this field.
Hypermedia and Multitalk
The goal is to impose an industry standard that is accepted internationally, making this an obvious area of exploitation for the different companies involved.

The work begun in MULTIWORKS 2105 continues in project 2713.


CONTACT POINT

Ing G. Ciardiello
ING. C. OLIVETTI & C. SPA
Via Jervis 77
I - 10015 IVREA
tel: + 39/125-529968
fax: + 39/ 125-528984
telex: 210030

Participants

ING. C. OLIVETTI & C. SPA - I - C
AEG OLYMPIA AG - D - P
BULL SA - F - P
STC PLC - UK - P
ACORN COMPUTERS LTD - UK - A
TRIUMPH-ADLER AG - D - A
HARLEQUIN LTD - UK - A
SGS-THOMSON MICROELECTRONICS SRL - I - A
PHILIPS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS BV - NL - A
CHORUS SYSTEMES - F - A


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MULTIWORKS - 2105, December 1993


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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook