The world of computer-generated graphics continues to mystify and enlighten both users and creators. Once used to transcend the real world, computer graphics now mirror the real world to such an extent it's often difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. As this month's special section reveals, current technical advances have propelled computer graphics full circle with the virtual world we've created now inspiring the design of, and even our experience in, the real one.
Senior Editor Andrew Rosenbloom, who orchestrated this section based on that perception, says current augmented reality interfaces seamlessly blend the real and the virtual. Certainly the articles within, written by some of the leading artists and graphical system architects today, render glowing examples of (the art of) the state of computer graphics and its tremendous benefits to multiple fields of entertainment, science, and design.
Images of new and burgeoning technologies are also in full bloom in this issue. Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell challenge the computing and consumer electronics communities to create a Home Media Network integrating all home-based media products. The main technology ingredients are available, they contend, and the obstacles are plenty, but the risk is clearly worth it.
Major cities worldwide employ digital components to give visitors and residents a social information infrastructure of urban life. Toru Ishida reviews some of the leading digital city sites, introducing a three-layered architecture for future digital cities. Kathy Shelfer and Drew Procaccino trace the birth of the smart card through to its current form as an emerging worldwide component of e-commerce.
John Gallaugher claims the Internet did not collapse distribution channels, it created an undulating distribution channel that contracts, shifts, or expands depending on user behavior. Snehamay Banerjee and Ram Kumar describe a framework for managing electronic interchange of business documents and the ways businesses can benefit from such planning. And Jonathon Cummings, Brian Butler, and Robert Kraut compare online and offline social relationships.
Our feature columns are pulled from the relentless, unsettling headlines. In "Electronic Frontier," Brock Meeks takes on the U.S. Attorney General's "Neighborhood Watch" campaign; and Neil Munro observes the expanding networkand access tolocal and federal databases in "From Washington."
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