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QUICKSCAN Indexed-Video Electronic Publishing
IDATE paper P.3


QUICKSCANŽ was first demonstrated at the 1982 National Association of Broadcasters convention in Dallas, Texas, and attracted great curiosity.

It is the invention and intellectual property of a lone inventor, a situation rare in these days of corporate and multinational media projects. It grew from a 1981 New Zealand Commission for the Future study indicating that the future will be broadband-abundant, and that, with respect to the broadcasting infrastructure, the future is now!

The relevant patent, A Method and Apparatus for Electronic Publishing, has issued in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and France. There are also claims of screen copyright, trademark and trade secrets within the licensable intellectual property.

Dow Jones & Company was the first licensee, acquiring a non-exclusive license for all purposes within the USA. The Rupert Murdoch Organization has acquired exclusive licenses for two limited applications: Television listings world-wide, and city-guides in the USA and Canada.* (the Murdoch Organization relinquished its exclusive rights in 1999.)

In 1986 QUICKSCANŽ was tested publicly over the Television New Zealand national network. A single prime-time telecast to an audience including an estimated 100,000 VCR homes returned over 2,000 pieces of mail, from people who had recorded and used the system successfully to enter a contest. This would appear to be a clear indication that the audience is ready, once QUICKSCANŽ services are provided and adequately promoted.

Several other groups have conducted tests, but to date the method is not in commercial use anywhere in the world.

Because indexed-video can deliver so many services to existing VCRs, it may be of more immediate interest to information and service providers than to hardware manufacturers. Improved hardware will be required for second-generation QUICKSCANŽ systems, and for machine-readable applications.

Since it is more proprietary methodology than secret technology, it is made available via two tiers of licensing opportunities, similar to franchising.

Broadcasters, publishers and post-production facilities can obtain non-exclusive licenses on terms generally based on a royalty on revenues generated by use of the system.

There are also investment opportunities to acquire and exploit territorial master licenses which will allow sub-licensing to third parties as well as in-house uses.

A global investment role exists for one hardware manufacturer, although there is a chicken-and-egg relationship between market development of services and need for hardware.


In the recent past, image-based devices such as the VCR, facsimile, and photocopier have all achieved critical mass beyond all predictions. In the future, HDTV, final-mile fiber optics, and DBS promise improved image quality and accessibility world-wide.

QUICKSCANŽ indexed-video is the simplest method of capitalizing on these trends. Beginning with one-to-many applications, and extending into the point-to-point fields as two-way video links become more common, it will find its niches if given visibility and fair market testing.

Whether the label is electronic publishing, interactive video, multi-media, or simply information storage and retrieval, the common denominator is the screen/image. By uniquely "addressing the image" in a familiar fashion, QUICKSCANŽ avoids most of the headaches facing hardware-dominated data systems for similar applications.

And given the insight that, for many uses, enforced browsing or visual searching is a positive rather than a negative characteristic, the VCR remains the device of choice, even if we look ahead to the elusive promise of a mass market recording videodisc.

In short, the same trends that limit the future growth of narrowband systems and noncompatible hardware and protocols, favor indexed-video and the VCR.

Index the message, not the medium, and the difficult becomes simple, and very, very friendly!