Wired Politics, Round Two

SAN MATEO (08/14/2000) - Not to be outdone by the Republicans, which had the first-ever broadband convention last month, the Democrats on Monday have harnessed tech tools such as streaming video, Internet chats, and a string of wireless applications for their party's Los Angeles soiree.

Perhaps the biggest differentiator between the Democrats' approach and that of the Republicans is the capability injected in the Democrats' Web site -- www.Dems2000.com. -- said a spokesman for AT&T Corp., in Basking Ridge, N.J.

AT&T is hosting the site in the carriers' newly infused data centers. Through those centers, AT&T will help the Democrats offer features such as Webcasting and interactive chat sessions, which each speaker will host after he or she concludes a convention address.

Feeding into the Dems2000 site is Be Here, which will hunker down with the pool of TV cameras covering the convention and offer complete Webcasts of the convention.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Be Here is the provider of Internet video technology called 360 degrees, which allows users to "look around" a streamed event. Major users of 360 include the National Football League, which used the technology to Webcast Superbowl XXXIV.

The Democrats are also trying to one-up the Republicans on the use of wireless devices, incorporating software from Aether Systems, of Owings Mill, Md.

Aether, through technology partner Eventcentric, is supplying its ScoutWare software which will allow convention-goers to use Palm handheld devices to access news and other information.

Voter.com -- one of the 20-plus IT vendors participating in the convention -- was also hired on to give attendees remote access to information. The company will give out about 10,000 smart cards at the Democratic convention. Supplying the cards is Irvine, Calif.-based CardLogix.

Delegates, press members, and other attendees will be able to access kiosks spread throughout both the Staples Center and the city of Los Angeles to obtain and secure personalized information such as convention schedules, issue updates, status on platform votes, and home district data for each delegate.

Until now, CardLogix has focused primarily on vertical markets such as health care but sees the convention as a chance to raise the visibility of its technology.

"These people make budget decisions in areas where the government could use smart cards," said Bruce Ross, vice president of marketing at CardLogix. "A lot of people have never used smart cards before. It certainly is a place where people can get their hands on the technology."

Convention officials have also tried to infuse Dems2000 with ways to make life easier for the flock of reporters covering the convention.

Packed onto the Site will be speech text, audio soundbites as well as the Webcasts, collectively called "eMersion."

But another company is offering up a way for average convention-goers to find easily photos of them with their favorite politician.

ImageID's SmartPicture technology will provide users with "Imagecodes" -- small circular stickers made up of color combinations -- and an access code to select photos taken of them while at parties and other events.

"Smart Picture technology allows us to easily meet the demand by decentralizing the distribution process, giving people the ability to quickly access their own pictures over the Internet," said David Cohen, executive director of the New York State Democratic Committee."

The technology uses advanced pattern and color-recognition algorithms to automatically recognize the Imagecodes appearing in a photo.

"In past campaigns, people spent an awful lot of time trying to match faces to names, and many people wouldn't get their photos for months," said Guy Spigelman, director of global consumer marketing at New York-based ImageID.

"Now, in two days, the photos are online and available for attendees to purchase," Spigelman said.

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