NUON is a powerful
and versatile embedded technology that enhances the passive elements
of digital video products such as DVD players, digital set tops
and digital satellite receivers, while adding high performance interactive
graphics and audio. This combination allows consumers to enjoy next
generation 3-D videogames, interactive family software and other
flexible applications all on the same digital platform.
So basically people can watch movies
and play videogames?
These are the
most important features. However, NUON is actually a powerful, flexible
and general purpose software platform for the living room. While
its strengths are in 3D graphics and digital video, it has the potential
to support many other TV applications, such as web browsing, email,
and video-telephony. But 3D graphics, videogames and digital video
are the most demanding applications of all, and this is where the
NUON media processor and software really excel.
Why are software publishers and developers
so interested in working on NUON?
First of all, NUON has the power to make their applications look
and feel better than on any existing platform. Developers are always
interested in working on the most powerful graphics and audio hardware,
and the power and flexibility of NUON allow them to really differentiate
promise of NUON is is a broader and more diverse market for videogames
and other interactive software. The "Trojan Horse" model of embedding
the NUON technology into popular digital video devices offers the
potential of a much larger and more diverse user base than is possible
from a videogame console. In other words, NUON will be owned and
used by consumers of a wider range of ages as well as interests.
NUON will provide interactive capability to families and individuals
who may have never thought about buying a videogame console, since
it will be incorporated as a standard feature into digital video
products such as DVD players. A broader and more diverse user base
translates into more opportunities for developers and publishers.
and developers are expecting this to allow them to expand the genres
of content that had previously never been open to them. Software
publishers and developers look forward to a newly expanded demographic
for interactive content.
Can you provide a general description
of the technology?
The NUON media
processor is indeed 128 bit. It is highly parallel and capable of
processing over 1.5 billion individually programmed instructions
per second. In benchmarks we have seen performance equivalent to
a Pentium II operating at between 500MHz and 1,000 MHz. NUON utilizes
state of the art semiconductor and software technologies to achieve
a breakthrough in consumer entertainment.
are poor benchmarks. A much better benchmark is to look at the graphics,
listen to the audio, and judge the quality of the gameplay, the
applications and the entire entertainment experience.
What is VM Labs' business plan for introducing
VM Labs' business
plan is to develop the NUON interactive platform technology, to
broadly license this technology to semiconductor and consumer electronics
manufacturers, and to evangelize and nurture third party software
VM Labs has
already secured deals with key partners in the semiconductor, manufacturer
and software publishing arenas.
What are the benefits to manufacturers
to incorporate NUON technology in their products?
In the competitive
arena of digital entertainment, those companies that will prosper
are those that continue to satisfy the needs and wants of the consumer.
NUON gives manufacturers the ability to offer their products with
additional and differentiating features - something not possible
with pure passive delivery.
a DVD player with the NUON technology embedded inside, will not
only offer the ability to play great videogames and family software,
but also high quality DVD playback, a richer graphical user interface,
smoother fast forward, rewind and slow motion, and many other features
not possible in today's systems.
What will be the cost to manufacturers
to incorporate NUON technology into their hardware?
be minimal incremental cost to manufacturers by incorporating NUON
technology. VM Labs have achieved this by incorporating all the
functions necessary for video and audio decode, including subpicture,
closed captioning, navigation, user interface and so forth, into
a single, high performance media processor. This chip replaces the
'hard wired' audio and video decoder ICs and often many other additional
ICs that are required in a typical digital video product.
What will be the resulting cost to the
The cost to
consumers will be determined by the manufacturers, not VM Labs.
Furthermore, the price will also vary according to the exact product
configuration, accessories and peripherals.
What will be the cost of interactive
software and videogames for NUON?
will be price competitive with existing consumer software products.
Will there be an add-on to incorporate
NUON into already existing DVD players (i.e. those that do not incorporate
Since the NUON
media processor is embedded in the heart of a digital video system,
it will not be possible to upgrade existing products.
What other devices can utilize NUON?
Can the technology be used in a PC?
video product can take advantage of the passive and interactive
features offered by NUON. Such products include DVD players, digital
satellite receivers, digital cable boxes and digital televisions.
It is also
likely that other consumer electronics products will utilize the
power of NUON in the future, including stand-alone game consoles,
Internet appliances, videophones, and car entertainment systems.
At this time,
VM Labs are focusing directly on the consumer digital video market,
rather than PCs.
Why will NUON be successful when so many
other new gaming and interactive platforms have failed?
succeed by becoming a standard feature embedded in the next generation
of consumer video entertainment products.
To date in
the United States, video game market penetration reaches approximately
30 percent. By comparison, consumer video entertainment products,
such as TVs, VCRs and cable boxes, have nearly all achieved total
market penetration. It is projected that digital consumer video
entertainment products will replace their analog counterparts, and
achieve total market penetration within the next five to ten years.
The NUON technology
is designed to be embedded inside the next generation of digital
consumer video entertainment products. And it's through this vehicle
of digital video entertainment, that NUON will achieve a very high
Won't different features offered by different
hardware confuse the marketplace and cause compatibility problems?
VM Labs' hardware
and software license agreements require extensive compatibility
testing. For example, all new NUON software and hardware will undergo
extensive testing to insure compatibility with all existing hardware
How does NUON's gameplay measure up to
other current game platforms ?
NUON was designed
from the beginning to provide software developers with the power,
tools and most important the flexibility to support outstanding
gameplay and new differentiating effects.
The NUON media
processor is extremely flexible, and capable of supporting a whole
range of totally new graphics effects and algorithms such as voxels,
plasma, procedural textures, parametric modeling, particle systems,
and even some ray tracing. At the very least, they can totally customize
the 3D pipeline to provide optimized performance for each specific
title. Special effects are designed by the developer, and not the
hardware manufacturer. This flexibility empowers the developer and
offers a way to really differentiate new content.
Is NUON being positioned to be in direct
competition with the game consoles?
offers world beating videogame performance, it will not be positioned
as a game console. NUON will become the standard for interactive
digital video entertainment, combining digital video with interactive
3-D graphics in one compelling platform.
When will hardware systems incorporating
NUON be available?
confirmed the incorporation of the NUON feature-set in their future
digital consumer products in the year 2000. NUON is at the heart
of the Streamaster set-top box reference architecture being deployed
by Motorola this year.
When are the games being launched for
the NUON platform, and what is VM Labs doing to promote them?
The first titles
will be available at hardware launch. VM Labs, together with their
hardware and publishing partners will utilize a variety of promotion
opportunities for the platform, primarily focused on games.
Can VM Labs port existing games to the
NUON platform, and does VM Labs have plans to do so?
In fact, VM Labs has secured deals with several game publishers
that are porting games to NUON. The powerful set of development
tools, APIs and infrastructure, enable developers to port their
core code in very little time, allowing more resources to be applied
to raising gaming performance and taking advantage of the advanced
graphic effects made possible by the technology.
Does NUON include a modem and videophone
The NUON technology
supports videotelephony, a soft modem, internet navigation and networking.
The software, interfaces and peripherals necessary to support these
applications will not necessarily be included in NUON products.
It is up to each manufacturer how they will configure and position
How did VM Labs and NUON get started?
The basic architectural
ideas were formed in early 1995. After seed funding the architecture
was developed in detail, carefully modeled and simulated and subsequently
turned into silicon. The original core development team consisted
of less than 15 engineers from a variety of backgrounds in videogames,
graphics, tools and chip design. VM Labs now has over 40 engineers
and expects to increase to at least 60 by the end of this year.
This is in addition to the substantial engineering teams dedicated
to NUON by VM Labs' partners and licensees.
Is VM Labs a private or publicly traded
VM Labs is
privately held at this time. The company is funded through advance
licensing fees as well as equity sales to individuals and corporate
What are the backgrounds and experiences
of the VM Labs' executive team?
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Miller founded VM Labs
in 1994 to develop and market technologies for interactive entertainment.
Before founding VM Labs, Mr. Miller was Vice President, technology
for Atari Corporation from 1989 to 1994, responsible for Atari's
development of computer and video game products. The "Jaguar," developed
by Mr. Miller's team was the first true 64-bit video game system
and was widely recognized for its technical superiority. From 1987
to 1989, Mr. Miller was Managing Director of Perihelion Ltd. in
England, a developer of high powered workstation computers based
upon the parallel-processing, RISC-architecture Transputer chip.
VP, Business and Legal Affairs Mr. Lefevre joined the Company in
May, 1996. He is responsible for the implementation of the Company's
third party relations and strategic partnerships, with a particular
emphasis on content development and the third party publishing program.
He also serves as the Company's General Counsel. Mr. Lefevre has
been involved in consumer electronics and interactive entertainment
software for more than fifteen (15) years working with Commodore,
Atari, Sega, and many other hardware and software companies. Mr.
Lefevre earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in
VP, 3rd Party Development Mr. Rehbock is one of the most recent
additions at VM Labs. Mr. Rehbock was the VP of R&D and Technical
Support at Sony Computer Entertainment America for the past two
years where he headed North American PlayStation library development,
Development Support, and Peripherals Licensing. While at Sony, he
was responsible for opening up communication between Sony and its
developers and getting the vast amounts of developer documentation
re-translated and formatted to make it easier to create PlayStation
software. He was also responsible for the launch of the "Net Yaroze"
hobbyist development system for PlayStation. Prior to Sony, Mr.
Rehbock was responsible for bringing critical titles such as Doom,
Myst, and Wolfenstein 3D to Atari's Jaguar.