HP dabbles in Indian art

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is dabbling in art, and hopes to generate a revenue stream from it. The company announced Tuesday that it has started a pilot program for the digital preservation and dissemination of Indian art in tandem with the Pune-based Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Delhi.

HP is already working on a similar program with the National Gallery in London, according to Debra Dunn, HP's senior vice president for corporate affairs.

HP Labs India in Bangalore will support the program with image, capture, proofing, storage and cataloging of the works of two Indian artists, Rabindranath Tagore and Amrita Sher-Gill, while C-DAC will create the digital library for NGMA. More than 200 paintings by these artists will be digitized and preserved using HP equipment. The aim of the program is to make the art accessible to a global audience to the web, as consumers can both view the art and order high-quality prints processed on HP equipment.

Although HP will start by donating equipment and manpower for the project, the company's plan is to evolve a business model for HP from its cooperation with museums around the world. "We see an opportunity for our printing services and our printing equipment and supplies, but we have not yet determined the business model in this case," said Dunn.

The museums are also likely to benefit from the HP program, as the digital distribution of art will enable them to create and deliver new products that can reach larger audiences worldwide, according to Dunn. "By channeling these products through technologies that HP is now commercializing, we will be creating business opportunities for ourselves," Dunn added.

Working in the challenging field of digital preservation and reproduction of art also provides an opportunity for HP to develop new technologies and test out new algorithms in the area of imaging and printing, that can be used in other applications, according to Neerja Raman, director of the imaging systems laboratory at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories. "We will have a business model arising from this program, but the priority for us is the research opportunity that art opens for us," added Raman. "The market for art will never be a high volume business for us."

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