When Communications Senior Editor Andy Rosenbloom first pitched the special section featured in this issue, I must admit I rolled my eyes skeptically. Images that appear more real than real? I mean, come on. Was this sci-fi talk, or perhaps a touch of sci-in-the-sky?
But Andy's enthusiasm soon turned contagious as he described the various technologies he envisioned for the section and the leading graphics researchers and practitioners he was determined to convince to contribute to the cause. "I am amazed and intrigued by computer graphics images, self-animating figures, virtual humans, scientific visualizations, and realistic renderings," he explains. "I wanted to understand more about how these images are created, and I wanted to understand how the people creating and inspiring the technology had figured out how to produce them."
The resulting special section reflects a year-long effort spotlighting all these topics (and more) and the creative forces behind them. The articles presented here tell of bewitching computer graphic technologies that can or will add a whole new dimension to our world and our human senses. Indeed, there's even a hint of sci-fi and sci-in-the-sky. And, it's all real!
Furthering the discussion on the power of these images are two articles focusing on first impressions and new perspectives. Ebert et al. detail a fascinating new technology that employs crossed-beam displays to produce panoramic 3D visualizations. And Singh and Dalal illustrate how Web home pages are viewed as advertisements and how managers and technicians should respond when creating their companies' Web site.
The competitive nature of business requires all team players to at least share the same page when it comes to fixing a problem. As Vedder et al. discover, when it comes to how CEOs and CIOs view competitive intelligence, one wonders if they even share the same planet.
Our columnists also push some industry buttons this month. In "Practical Programmer," Robert Glass offers new information, and insight, to a legendary software debacle, that is, the $150 million Westpac Banking runaway software project. In "Log on Education" Elliot Soloway calls on some noted colleagues to join him in examining the effectiveness of handheld devices as learning tools in and out of the classroom. And Bruce Schneier points out in "Inside Risks" that biometrics technologies are not as secure as we might think because our "prints" (finger, iris, voice) are everywhere, and they are certainly liftable.
Diane Crawford, Editor
COMING NEXT MONTH: A special section highlighting successful applications of distributed mission training using VR and real-time networking. We also explore the possibilities of digital newspapers, the economics of network management, and the benefits, yes, benefits, of the Y2K problem.
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