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Motorola, Kahn to develop wireless cam

Motorola has licenced ePhoto technology, created by Philippe Kahn's LightSurf, that'll let you take digital photos and send them instantly

Motorola is teaming up again with software entrepreneur Philippe Kahn, this time on wireless technology for transmitting photographs from digital cameras.

The Schaumburg, Illinois, company is announcing Monday that it has licenced software and related technology developed by LightSurf Technologies, a closely held Santa Cruz, California, company founded by Kahn and his wife. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Motorola, a major maker of cellular phones, isn't disclosing specific plans for how it will use the LightSurf technology. But Motorola officials indicated it hopes to play a significant role in allowing consumers to beam photographs to the Web the moment they are taken, possibly from hand-held cameras or devices connected to the TV set.

In theory, computerised photographs could be sent by doing little more than connecting a digital camera to a cell phone. But the digital files created by such cameras are large, taking too much time and communications bandwidth to be transmitted practically by millions of consumers.

Kahn, a French-born programmer, says LightSurf has developed a system, dubbed ePhoto, that brings a fourfold to fivefold acceleration in transmitting digital photographs. He predicts consumers will see hybrid wireless cameras in 12 months that will allow them to zap photographs to other people without plugging anything in. "Your kid is born, and that photograph is instantly shared on the Web," he said.

"LightSurf has a fully integrated architecture that addresses all of the components that we think we need," said Jonathan Ruff, director of marketing and strategy in Motorola's personal networking group. "We will begin to deploy those components."

Motorola knows Kahn well. In 1998, Motorola purchased Starfish Software, which specialises in technology for synchronising data between hand-held devices, personal computers and the Web. Starfish, based in Scotts Valley, California, was founded by Kahn after he resigned as chief executive officer of software maker Borland International.

LightSurf, which has 55 employees, expects to licence its technology to others besides Motorola and may operate its own infrastructure services, Kahn said. He said it is talking to other major companies in the electronics and photography areas.

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