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Virtual printers for the World Cup

In the Virtual Office of the Future, printers, fax machines and scanners will not need to be addressed directly. Jobs will be automatically distributed to the appropriate output device by software. Sports journalists will be the system’s first users during the soccer world championship.

Sports journalists covering matches in Kaiserslautern will be able to work more efficiently than in other cities hosting the 2006 soccer world championship. For despite having to divide their time between press conferences and the stadium, they will not be deprived of the usual, convenient office services. The “Virtual Office of the Future” or VOF developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE enables office machines to be networked intelligently and accessed from any location. A journalist equipped with a laptop will be able to send print jobs to a network of print stations distributed throughout Kaiserslautern. Texts and other documents can be sent directly from the stadium to a printer located in the user’s hotel, for instance. "Obviously, this is just one small example of what the VOF can do," remarks development manager Dr. Dirk Muthig. He works in collaboration with the research department of Japanese office equipment manufacturer Ricoh, finding ways to make fax machines, scanners and printers smarter, thus enabling them to handle new applications. Here’s an example: Instead of battling to find the right printer in a corporate network that is capable of delivering high-quality laser printouts, the user merely needs to select the required print quality. The VOF will locate a suitable printer all on its own. Nor is it necessary to check which fax machines are free. Just send off the fax command, and the VOF central processor will route the document to a fax machine on the company’s premises that is not busy at that moment. The VOF approach does away with the old system of one-to-one communication between different devices. Instead it creates a virtual printing environment in which the network decides on the most efficient way of distributing tasks. Whatever requirements the customer might have, the Fraunhofer "PuLSE® Technology" – its Software and Systems Engineering product line – enables the researchers to develop a customized solution in each case. "Our software is like a raw material. All we need to do is to process it into the right shape," explains Muthig. An example is the documentation system that is being worked on for the police: when pictures are taken at the scene of an accident, the digital camera automatically selects the correct format and frames the image in such a way that it can be more easily inserted into the subsequent accident report.For further information: Dr. Dirk Muthig Phone: +49 631 6800-1302 Fax: +49 631 6800-1399 Fraunhofer-Institut für Experimentelles Software Engineering IESE Fraunhofer-Platz 1 67663 Kaiserslautern

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