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Tech firms' latest coming to Baltimore State's 4th showcase of what future holds expects to lure 12,000; 'Quality of life' for Garrett; IBM, Microsoft as well as Md. firms to show off at Convention Center; Innovation


Clothes can say a lot about a person, but this is a bit much.

The Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a "smart" T-shirt that uses optical fibers to monitor the wearer's vital signs.

The shirt will be one of the objects on display at the Maryland Technology Showcase, the state's annual high-technology product show and discussion forum.

The event, now in its fourth year, will take place Wednesday and Thursday at the Baltimore Convention Center. The state government, which sponsors the showcase, expects it to draw more than 12,000 spectators and over 300 exhibitors.

Major F. Riddick Jr., Gov. Parris N. Glendening's chief of staff and the Technology Showcase chairman, said the event "enables us to showcase and demonstrate to the citizens of Maryland how important technology is to them not only today but in the future."

"It begins to set a template for how we can think about technology and become more comfortable with technology," he said.

Businesses from around the country, including International Business Machines Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., will have booths at the event, as will government agencies and schools from around the state.

In addition, there will be pavilions dedicated to various high-technology subjects, such as information security and medical devices.

Riddick said private sponsorships are covering the cost of the showcase, and that the only state funds used for the event will come from individual agencies sponsoring booths.

For companies, the showcase represents an opportunity to both show off their wares to the public and initiate deals with other businesses.

One Maryland company that will have a booth is Axent Technologies Inc., a Rockville computer security firm. Matthew Valleskey, Axent's corporate events manager, said, "Our main focus is going to be business-to-business," but he said the fTC company plans to have public demonstrations of its intrusion-detection software and other products.

"We want to show what we provide but we also want to show people that we're from Maryland," Valleskey said. Of the many state and county government agencies scheduled to appear at the showcase, none will have traveled a longer distance than the economic development officials of Garrett County.

Meg Ellis, representing Garrett, said coming to Baltimore for the Technology Showcase is worth the trek, if only to persuade her fellow Marylanders to develop a broader image of the state's westernmost county.

"Most people know Garrett County as a vacation spot," Ellis said. "What we're doing here is showing it's also a great quality-of-life area for technology-based businesses."

Not that Ellis is bashful about exploiting the popular view of Garrett County. At last year's showcase, she handed out vacation guides. She said this proved to be an effective way to bring people to the county's booth.

"Even though they were there for vacation information, it gave me an opportunity to discuss business opportunities with them," she said.

As for the smart T-shirt, Georgia Tech textile engineering Professor Sundaresan Jayaraman said the garment feels like a regular white undershirt, but can record the wearer's temperature, heart rate, and respiration.

He said such wired clothing could eventually do much more:

"Looking into the future, I could see you plugging in certain chips and plugging into the fiber-optic network so you'd be a walking information infrastructure," with the garment acting as a telephone and even a computer screen.

The showcase is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is free, though organizers encourage registration at the door or in advance at the showcase's Web site: www.mdtechshowcase.com.

Pub Date: 12/07/98

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