Key Messages for VPL announcement
*Sun has acquired from Thompson CFS and Greenleaf Medical, the
complete worldwide rights to the patent portfolio and technical assets
of VPL Research -- the pioneer of virtual reality technology and
networked 3D graphics.
*Sun will incorporate the technology protected by the VPL patents,
which extends beyond virtual reality to networked 3D graphics, human
body based input and 3D window systems, in its own Java 3D API and
networked 3D graphics products, as well as make the technologies
available to partners in the same manner that it makes available
technology developed directly by Sun.
*Sun has long been an innovator in the area of virtual reality, 3D
graphics, and open standards. The first paper on virtual reality was
written in 1965 by current Sun Fellow Ivan Sutherland and Java 3D is
rapidly becoming an industry standard. The acquisition strengthens
Sun's already strong intellectual property position in 3D graphics
*Virtual reality and networked 3D graphics have impact beyond
entertainment (arcades, web-based network games) to areas of MCAD,
medical imaging, training and simulation, product development and
testing -- any instance where large databases of representative
information (often involving multiple senses) are used interactively
across a network.
*This acquisition is important to Sun because it involves real-time
computer-generated 3D synthetic environments, which many experts
believe are rapidly becoming the user interface to the Internet. As
this comes to pass, this technology will likely impact most commercial
and non-commercial uses of computers for interactive communications in
the next decade
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Anne Little 650-786-6702
Burson-Marsteller for Sun
Jessica Kersey 650-287-4006
SUN ACQUIRES VIRTUAL REALITY AND NETWORKED 3D GRAPHICS PATENT
PORTFOLIO FROM INDUSTRY PIONEER
As Open Standards, These Fundamental Patents will Impact Interactive
Consumer and Industrial Communications and Applications
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- February X, 1998 -- Sun Microsystems, Inc.
today announced it has acquired the patent portfolio and other
technical assets of the former VPL Research Inc., a pioneering firm in
the field of virtual reality and networked 3D graphics, from Thompson
CSF and Greenleaf Medical. Under the agreement, Sun has acquired the
worldwide rights to more than a dozen key patents and related
technologies. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
The technology and patents relate to fundamental concepts of virtual
reality and networked 3D graphics, including networked computer
interaction, datagloves and other computer wearables, image rendering
and manipulation, and standards for programming software for virtual
environments. The acquisition represents the latest development in
Sun's long history of innovation in virtual reality and networked 3D
graphics. Sun Fellow Ivan Sutherland wrote the first paper on
virtual reality in 1965, and Sun's Java 3D API is rapidly becoming an
industry standard. In keeping with its policy of developing to and
offering open industry standards, Sun intends to incorporate the VPL
technologies into the Java 3D model and its other graphics products.
"The pioneering work that VPL Research and its founder Jaron Lanier
did in developing virtual reality technology has a substantial
carry-over benefit to the types of advanced graphics capabilities that
Sun is developing, particularly in networked 3D graphics and 3D window
systems, " said Michael Deering, Sun Distinguished Engineer. "As an
open systems company, Sun's acquisition of this important technology
is also good news to companies that have extended many of the advances
within virtual reality into commercial and technical computing."
The VPL patents enhance Sun's own fundamental research and development
for the past ten years in the areas of virtual reality and general 3D
graphics. Sun has long been the leading manufacturer of graphics
workstations used for mechanical computer aided design (MCAD) and
scientific computing. It was the first to introduce stereo-ready
workstations in 1993. Sun's recently announced Elite 3D, the fastest
single-channel, triangle rendering product, is a graphics option for
many of its Ultra workstations, including the new Ultra 5 (tm) and
Ultra 10(tm) workstations announced in January. Other
graphics-related technology advancements from Sun include 3D RAM,
geometry decompression, and Java 3D software.
In the area of virtual reality, Sun has developed virtual holographic
workstations, virtual portals (three-screen immersive projection
displays), the Java 3D View Model (a virtual reality viewing model for
the Java 3D package), as well as a virtual reality authoring and
display package, and virtual camera.
Virtual Reality -- Beyond Sci-Fi and Into Corporations
Virtual reality, which received recognition earlier in the decade for
its impact on the entertainment industry, has recently gained
widespread interest for its importance to the emerging market of
interactive communications. Many experts believe real-time computer
generated 3D synthetic environments are rapidly becoming the user
interface to the Internet. Virtual reality and networked 3D graphics
are becoming a competitive edge for commercial and non-commercial
companies in the areas of MCAD; medical imaging; education, training
and simulation; product development and testing -- any instance where
large databases of representative information (often involving
multiple senses) are used interactively across a network.
VPL Research was a leader in the early development and
commercialization of virtual reality technology and products. VPL
founder Jaron Lanier gained recognition for coining the term "virtual
reality" and became its guru. VPL's groundbreaking efforts and
research have become an important influence on much of the virtual
reality and 3D graphics products that succeeded the company. In
particular, many of the advances that made possible interactive,
networked, 3D games like Doom(tm) and Quake(tm) have derived from the
early work in virtual reality.
"I'm delighted that Sun has acquired VPL's assets," said Jaron Lanier,
Lead Scientist for the National Tele-immersion Initiative, a coalition
of research universities working to create the next generation of
virtual reality applications on the Internet. "Sun's commitment to
open systems and the Java paradigm will provide a superb context for
the formulation of competitive strategies by both VR users and
developers. The next generation of applications will have to deal
with a level of complexity that other leading platforms cannot
address. Virtual reality-based applications will be needed in order
to manage giant data-bases and networks, advanced medical imaging, and
fast turn-around mechanical design. And all of these mega-applications
will have to support real time collaboration over the net. Sun is in
an ideal position to enable this new level of increased productivity."
Greenleaf Medical was an early licensee (1988) of VPL, and has
developed several medical products based on VPL technology. From 1992
until 1997, Greenleaf Medical maintained the VPL intellectual property
and other assets.
"Sun's acquisition is very good news for the virtual reality community
and for everyone who uses computers to interact with information,"
said Walter Greenleaf, Ph.D., president of Greenleaf Medical. "It is
important that open standards be established in this area, and we are
very pleased to see Sun step forward and rescue VPL. We could not
imagine a better steward for this important portfolio of patents."
About Sun Microsystems
Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision, "The Network is the
Computer (tm)," has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUNW) to
its position as a leading provider of hardware, software and services
for establishing enterprisewide intranets and expanding the power of
the Internet. With more than $8 billion in annual revenues, Sun can
be found in more than 150 countries and on the World Wide Web at
Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, "The Network is the Computer,"
Ultra and Solaris are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun
Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.
Doom and Quake are registered trademarks of ID Software.