A R T I C L E S
This Dog Will Hunt
Algorithm's Internet "WatchDog" is only one of many ventures for the growing company.
Magazine went hunting for this year's group of "very cool" companies, it caught scent of Algorithm, Incorporated, because of the company's attempt to take a byte out of pornography on the Internet. And while Fortune saw an analogy to George Orwell's "Big Brother" in Internet WatchDog® a monitoring program adopted as a productivity tool by at least 25 Fortune 500 companies Algorithm founder Christopher D. Watkins says his creation was intended as anything but sinister.
"The whole point of Internet WatchDog® was to take power out of our hands and put it in parents' hands, because we're in no position to force our value systems on others," says Watkins, EE '89, president and CEO of Algorithm. Rather than attempting to block access to offensive World-Wide Web sites, which is impractical considering the Web's proliferation, Internet WatchDog® monitors computer use and takes snapshots of the screen. These snapshots are collected on a grid that parents can later review to determine what their children are looking at in much the same way that a telephone customer reviews monthly bills to see who their children are calling. Internet WatchDog® runs invisibly in the background, and it is password protected so tampering can be detected. Several companies discovered Internet WatchDog® and put it to use monitoring their employees' "Web surfing" habits.
Venturer and Other Ventures
Internet Watchdog® isn't the only thing Algorithm is doing that's "very cool":
Venturer S2 Interactive®
Looking like a bright yellow mini-van sans the wheels, Thomson Entertainment's Venturer S2® closes to seal in two riders, then treats them to a videodisk and motion-platform simulation that realistically mimics a roller-coaster ride. Algorithm is taking that concept a step further with Venturer S2 Interactive®, which uses the video and aircraft-simulator motion base to replicate air combat or any other situation. Unlike its predecessor, the interactive version utilizes a Pentium-based PC like those found on desktops everywhere, instead of a high-end workstation, dramatically cutting production and consumer costs.
Being developed for Immersive Technologies, Kimera® is a periscope-like device that puts the user in a realistic three-dimensional environment similar to that created by virtual-reality helmets. But it doesn't require a full-time attendant. Mounted on gimbals with counterweights to keep it balanced, Kimera® uses two miniature video monitors, one for each eye, to accurately replicate three-dimensional vision. Players use twin handles with triggers to navigate the platform's virtual world, and body motion is translated by two Pentium computers into movement within the digital environment. The Immerse-O-Scope® boom's video inputs are based on actual human sensory perception, taken from biomechanical data. The gaming environment can be upgraded on a regular basis, increasing the machine's consumer appeal.
Compu-Ceph®, Present It!® and Create It!®
These three Windows-based software programs are used by orthodontists and oral surgeons to give patients a realistic view of the results of pending treatment or surgery. Compu-Ceph® allows orthodontists to meld X-rays and photos to project the results of treatment, as well as archive records in images. Present It!® and Create It!® serve similar functions, providing a graphical interface for patients in which they can easily assimilate complex procedures.
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