LARA CROFT GOES MOBILE
Copyright 2001 www.tornado-insider.com

[ September 12th 2001 ]

Lara Croft, the popular heroine of the Tomb Raider games, will soon be apperaing even on mobile phones. Tao Group has made computer and console video games compatible with mobile phones. The British software house has created an innovative technology which has convinced a consortium of investors headed by US Bowman Capital Partners to offer new financing worth $18 million.

Tao Group had already received a first recognition for its technology last July. On that occasion the Open Contents Platform Association, (OCPA), was created in Tokyo. OCPA is a consortium made up of approximately twenty world producers in the electronics consumption field among which Sharp, JVC, Kyocera which had chosen Intent, the Java-based multimedia platform created by the British company, in order to create a standard for the association.

OCPA was conceived for OEMs and for content suppliers and it was born with the objective of creating an open and flexible technological platform. It is able to simplify the development of applications independent from the hardware, from the operational system and from the language they support.

Francis Craig, chairman of Tao says, "The aim of Intent is the possibility to utilize applications conceived for a particular device on another device. For example, the possibility of making a game for digital TV set-top-boxes or for a console work even on a mobile phone, without having to spend more money to adapt the application to the mobile phone’s different operational system."

Old partners have also taken part in the refinancing of Tao Group, among which Sony’s investment arm, NEC, and Sharp, but not Motorola which already took part in the three previous rounds, (to date the capital received by Tao from its creation in 1992 is more than $30 million). "We will utilize the new financing for the diffusion of Intent,” continues Craig. “Sharp has already announced the integration of our multimedia software in all of its products. Other clients are Grundig and JVC."

According to Craig the sectors which will shortly guarantee most revenue are video games and gaming, both online and via mobile phones. So in this direction last week Tao established a strategic agreement with Terraplay Systems, a Swedish supplier of technological platforms for online and mobile phone gaming. The core product of the Stockholm-based company is GAS, Game Access Server, for video games editors, which is compatible with various platforms among which Windows, Pocket PC, PlayStation, Symbian OS and Java.

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