Bill Gates blamed the severe bandwidth shortage problem as a limiting factor to the success of his technology. He wasn't talking about Windows, but the database of photographs and fine art that is being created by Corbis, the other company he founded.
Speaking at Imagescape 99, a digital imaging event taking place in conjunction with Comdex, Gates gave the audience a glimpse of what his life is like in his multibillion dollar home in Seattle.
In his vision of a digital home, high-resolution display screens are placed anywhere around the home, such as on fridges, to display images on demand.
He said wryly: "A little bit of the house that I live in is a glimpse of that future available today - of course, not at a reasonable price - but that's what pioneering is all about."
He and his wife keep a database of a million digital images collected by Corbis, as well as their personal photos, which they display on high-resolution screens spread throughout their home.
"If I'm taking a trip somewhere or if I'm interested in some part of history or art, I pick that, and I pick what kind of screen it goes on. Then I can get the background information. And when I see something of particular interest, I can ask for similar images to appear on all the screens."
But he blasted the dearth of sufficient bandwidth that is hampering the use of digital imaging technology by people that do not have his wealth. Although a growing percentage of households have digital cameras and scanners, it has not been attractive for consumers to browse and download images online because of the bandwidth issue.
He said: "Today, if a home has a dial-up connection, the experience of looking at dozens of miniature images to try and isolate a photo you are interested in, is still too slow. You'd much rather have someone Fedex you a bunch of photos and look through those, than browse on your own screen."
However, he believes the popularity of broadband networking technologies such as cable modems and digital subscriber line (DSL) communications will make high-speed links to the Internet available to people at less than $100 a month.
Gates set up Corbis in 1989 to bring photographic and fine art images to consumers and creative professionals using digital images. Through the company's website, consumers can select digital images to create various products such as electronic greeting cards and screensavers.
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