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Panoscan promises digital photographs that deliver QuickTime VR images in 360 degrees. That's 259 more than most of my friends have. What's more, the Panoscan system does it seamlessly, with no film, no scanning, no stitching and no postproduction required. Mount the digital camera on a Gitzo tripod, slap on a 28mm Nikon perspective control lens, cable the camera to a Macintosh G3 PowerBook and trip the shutter. The Panoscan system whirs into life. For the next 15 minutes, the Panoscan swivels precisely on a computer-controlled pan-head. Automatically the system captures and downloads a single photograph, which appears on the PowerBook screen line by line, in a seamless image, thanks to the digital line scan technology of Phase One software, built into the Panoscan. This precise computer-driven coordination between camera, pan head, tripod, software and PowerBook produces images of mind-boggling resolution and size. A single 15-minute, high-resolution scan delivers a walloping 565 megabytes.

To accompany these industrial-strength images, there's an industrial-strength price tag: $27,000. You won't find a Panoscan in the hands of an ordinary consumer any time soon. Where you will find it is in high-end industrial applications where resolution matters, where time to market is crucial, and where the immersive quality of a Panoscan image placed on a Web site is literally the next best thing to being there. Panoscan is hoping to tap the burgeoning market for virtual tours on the Web that range from Detroit car interiors to high-end yacht brokerages, all the way down-market to online auction sites.

Of course, there's also the great outdoors. The complete Panoscan system weighs in at a backpackable 40 lbs. and stows neatly away in an overhead bin. Check the

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