Intel invests in virtual reality startup

Intel has announced that it has invested in a new Internet startup called The Palace which will market a multimedia software architecture used for the development of 3D chat worlds.

Intel has announced that it has invested in a new Internet startup called The Palace which will market a multimedia software architecture used for the development of 3D chat worlds.

The Palace technology, developed and released by Time-Warner (The Palace's parent company) in November 1995, lets users select an avatar, or online persona, and move through virtual rooms in order to interact and chat with other participants. Developers can use the technology architecture to create unique worlds on any Web server.

Intel would not comment on the amount of money invested in the Portland, Oregon-based company, except to say that it will hold a minority share. Other investors in The Palace include Softbank and Warner Music Group, a division of Time-Warner.

Several Intel employees will leave to work at the startup, including Michael Maerz, vice-president of Intel's Internet and communications group, who will become president and CEO of The Palace.

In addition to a monetary investment, Intel will also license some of its own virtual reality audio and video technology to The Palace for use in future releases of the product, according to Tom Waldrop, a spokesman for Intel. "It is not a joint venture, but Intel and The Palace will definitely have a technological relationship," he says.

"A strong technical relationship will be a key part of our strategy," Maerz has confirmed on behalf of The Palace.

Free trial copies of The Palace client and server software are available on the company's Web site at http://www.thepalace.com.

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