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Insight technology CD32 logo  CD32  Top Rated

£33.99 – OPTONICA/COMMODORE – 0628 770088

M Insight technology CD32 ention multimedia to most people and they will either look at you as if you have said a dirty word or just fall asleep as you speak [which happens a lot to our News Editor, Tony Dillon, funnily enough - Ed]. It is not that multimedia is boring or anything, it is just that no one really seems to know what it is or what it is supposed to do.

For the record, multimedia is ‘the integration of graphics, video, sound and text under the control of a computer in order to perform a specific task’. I know this because it is written in my computer dictionary, but it hardly makes the pulse quicken, does it?

However, where multimedia gets really interesting is the way in which sound, video, graphics and text are combined. Over the next few years, we are in for something of a revolution in the way that information is presented, and it is all thanks to our good friend multimedia. For instance, instead of pushing around a shopping trolley in a supermarket the size of Wembley Stadium, imagine being able to browse through a virtual reality shopping mall via your TV, picking out the goods and services you need at the click of a button.

Another application could be the interactive travel agent where a prospective holiday maker slots in a CD disc into their player, selects a choice of holiday destinations and settles back to watch an audio-visual presentation of each area. There could also be a number of more specific text menus listing anything from the best local clubs and pubs in which to swing your paints to details of where to find a childminder to take care of the kids while you have a good time.

Another area where multimedia could make a big impact is in education. There is nothing more boring than a book full of text, especially if the subject is something that is difficult to get to grips with in the first place. Realising the possibilities presented by Commodore’s new CD32, Optonica have come up with a multimedia guide to the way things work. Insight Technology, the first in a series of titles, is a fascinating title which manages to combine video, audio and text to provide a truly exciting and innovative technology reference disc.

Taking its lead from everyday objects, Optonica have set out to explain how each object works. From guns and video games to water-wheels, robots and helicopters, the disc is an intriguing look at technology at work. The choice of subjects is presented in an alphabetical list which can be scrolled through until the desired option is highlighted. Once you have decided on a topic that interests you, merely press a button on the control pad and the relevant entity will be displayed after a few seconds disc access.

Each entry consists of descriptive text, annotated diagrams and a number of digitised pictures. There is also a 10 second narration accompanying each topic with some sequences including some primitive animations using colour cycling. Although the sound quality of the narration is not brilliant, it is easy to understand what is being said. My only complaint is that there is not enough of it! Picture quality is excellent and it is obvious that a great deal of care has been taken in the photography and subsequent scanning of each object.

A number of entries are also accompanied by video footage, complete with sound. Occupying roughly 1/8th of the screen, these last for approximately 20 to 30 seconds. Although it is nice to watch these additional clips, the choice is a little inappropriate at times, suggesting that Optonica were not all that fussy in what they decided to include. For example, on a section about submarines, all you get to see are some dials and a machinery which might be from the engine room or bridge of a submarine, but it is difficult to tell. Surely some exterior shots of a submarine plumbing the ocean depths would have been more appropriate in this instance!

Overall, Optonica’s Insight Technology is an interesting addition to the growing number of CD32 releases. Although the number of topics is not vast, there is enough here to stimulate both adults and children, and it is ideal tool for learning how everyday objects work.
Tony Dillon


CU Amiga, January 1994, p.66