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A need for an entirely new medical workstation design was identified to increase the deployment of 3D medical imaging and multimedia communication. Recent wide acceptance of the World Wide Web (WWW) as a general communication service within the global network has shown how big the impact of standards and open systems can be. Information is shared among heterogeneous systems and diverse applications on various hardware platforms only by agreeing on a common format for information distribution. For medical image communications, the Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) standard is possibly anticipating such a role. Logically, the next step is open software: platform-independent tools, which can as easily be transferred and used on multiple platforms. Application of the platform-independent programming language Java enables the creation of plug-in tools, which can easily extend the basic system. Performance problems inherent to all interpreter systems can be circumvented by using a hybrid approach. Computationally intensive functions like image processing functions can be integrated into a natively implemented optimized image processing kernel. Plug-in tools implemented in Java can utilize the kernel functions via a Java-wrapper library. This approach is comparable to the implementation of computationally intensive operations in hardware.