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Sunday, October 20, 2002
Microsoft and Panasonic unveil new HighM.A.T. technology


Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic) and Microsoft Corp. unveiled a new technology they have co-developed that enables a dramatically improved method of storing, arranging and playing back personal digital photo, music and video collections on recordable discs such as CD-RW media.

Called HighM.A.T.™, which stands for High-performance Media Access Technology, this new technology is designed to significantly improve interoperability for digital media content between PCs and popular electronic devices such as CD players, car stereos and living room DVD devices. CDs created using the HighM.A.T. technology will be fully compatible with existing devices that play back recordable disc media. Panasonic, Microsoft and Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. (Fujifilm) will adopt this new technology for use in their future products. The HighM.A.T. specification will also be available for easy licensing by other consumer electronics companies and software developers at http://www.HighMAT.com/.

"It's clear to us at Panasonic that PCs and consumer electronics products will continue to work more and more closely in the future. HighM.A.T. technology will set a new standard for exchanging digital media between such devices and will make it easier to play back personal music, photo and video collections in consumer AV products," said Fumio Ohtsubo, managing director of Matsushita Electric. "We are very pleased that Panasonic can contribute to realizing the dream of seamless digital convergence."

"As digital entertainment continues to evolve in the home, we see many opportunities for PCs and electronics devices to enhance one another through faster and easier interoperation," said Will Poole, corporate vice president of the Windows New Media Platforms Division at Microsoft. "HighM.A.T. is our most recent step in realizing this vision and collaborating on consumer needs at a much deeper level, in close partnership with electronics industry leaders such as Panasonic."

Inspired by growth in consumer use of digital still and video cameras and compressed digital music, HighM.A.T. was developed to create an easier and faster way to move digital media from the PC to consumer electronics devices. Today when consumers want to create their own digital media collections (photos, audio and/or video) on CDs, there is no consistent way for CD and DVD players to read this data. Each interface for finding media is different, and the viewable information, such as playlists, music metadata and folders with photos or videos, varies depending on what each device supports. The contents of these discs are displayed very differently on televisions with a DVD player than the way they are experienced on car stereos.

This lack of consistency confuses users when they try to find the music, photos or videos they want. In addition, with large collections of digital music and photos, it can take several minutes for the DVD or CD player to "read" and find the music, photos or video that are available after the content has been burned on the compact disc or other physical format.

HighM.A.T. solves these issues by creating an optimized way for PCs to identify digital files on recordable disks and standard ways for consumer devices to read these disks. This new technology will speed up startup times for data CDs and other physical formats and make navigation across a broad range of consumer electronics devices, including car stereos, DVD players and CD players, consistent and easy. CDs created using the HighM.A.T. technology will still be compatible with existing devices that play back recordable disc media, and HighM.A.T. is compliant with the standard ISO 9660 Joliet file system.

Microsoft will begin adding HighM.A.T. disc creation support in its upcoming final release of Windows Media® Player 9 Series and in a future version of Windows® Movie Maker, the digital video editing and publishing feature of Windows XP. Panasonic will support HighM.A.T. in future versions of its CD and DVD players in 2003. Microsoft and Panasonic are also announcing that Fujifilm is supporting HighM.A.T. in future versions of its products and that it is the first of many companies supporting the HighM.A.T.initiative.

"Fujifilm recognizes the importance of HighM.A.T. and is pleased to join with Microsoft and Panasonic to create a better consumer experience using digital media both on the PC and with consumer electronics devices," said Yukihiro Shibakawa, general manager of the DI Software Development Division of Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd.

HighM.A.T. technology will be made available for easy licensing by both software developers and other consumer electronics device manufacturers. Companies interested in learning more about licensing HighM.A.T. may visit http://www.HighMAT.com/.

Today's announcement by Microsoft and Panasonic builds and extends the cooperation in digital media the companies first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2002 with Panasonic's broad adoption of Windows Media Audio (WMA) in its line of DVD players.


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