Advanced Digital Media
From its inception, iCAIR has been involved in multiple research and development projects focused on creating advanced digital media capabilities that can take advantage of next generation networks. Primarily these efforts have been developing advanced Internet digital media services. However, they have also included investigations of new methods for providing digital media services with non-routed networks. Digital media has become an especially important driver application for the next-generation Internet technology design and creation. Internet content today primarily consists of text and images as opposed to digital media. Increasingly, however, improvements to Internet technology are enabling it to support the creation and deployment of many new forms of digital media. For example, the Internet can support far more varieties of communications channels than are generally available today, such as 3D virtual environment channels.
The Internet and Digital Media
The Internet has the potential to advance communications far beyond traditional media technology, such as broadcast media. However, before this goal is achieved, a number of limitations in current Internet networks must be addressed. In general, Internet technology as generally implemented does not effectively support digital media based applications. Consequently, digital media applications that exist today are fairly restricted at several levels, which usually results in low quality services. Through multiple initiatives, iCAIR and its research partners have been advancing digital media technology by removing these restrictions. These research initiatives are developing advanced capabilities for high quality, high performance digital media to the Internet. One goal of these initiatives is to bring high quality digital video (full color, full motion, full screen, ultra-high-quality) as a common service to the Internet. Another goal is to create new classes of applications and services based on digital media. Another objective is to create new software that will support media applications. Other projects are aimed at creating new types of networking technology that provide enhanced support for digital media. Almost all of iCAIR's digital media projects are international in scope. For many years, iCAIR has led the digital video working group of the Coordinating Committee for International Research Networks.
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Digital Media Modalities
iCAIR has undertaken projects related to three major digital media modalities: Digital Media-On Demand, technologies that support interactive access to repositories of digital video and related digital media objects, allowing for functions as pause, forward, and reverse, and providing for functions such as scheduling for transferred at specified times; Live-Streaming, direct transfer, for live transfer directly streamed for immediate viewing of digital, usually using multicast; Videoconferencing, multi-way interactive high quality video and audio for collaboration among two or more individuals or groups, along with supplemental capabilities for additional transmitted materials, such as projected 3D objects.
Showcases and Demonstrations
At various national, regional and international conferences, iCAIR has demonstrated new digital media technologies and prototype services, showcasing a wide variety of advanced capabilities. These demonstrations usually demonstrate advanced digital media services over next generation Internets. For example, iCAIR has organized advanced media demonstrations for the iGRID conferences ("international Grid," which are the primary showcases of the world's most advanced network based applications. The biennial iGrid events are dedicated to showcasing leading-edge applications enabled by globally high-performance networks. The iGRID conferences demonstrate how scientific collaborators are taking optimal advantage of global connectivity to empower collaborative solutions to complex problems. The iGRID conferences have demonstrated technical innovations and application advancements, including those requiring Teleimmersion, large datasets, distributed computing, remote instrumentation, collaboration, human/computer interfaces, streaming media, digital video and high-definition television.
Digital Media Based on Optical Multicast
Traditional multicast techniques are supported by layer 3 routing, which has several limitations for supporting extremely large, persistent digital media streams, especially when those streams are particularly latency intolerant. iCAIR is working with a research consortium to create new techniques for supporting large scale HD digital media streams using layer 2 and layer 1 methods, including for streams that have to be sent among multiple sites, nationally and internationally. One method of these methods is "optical multicast" - which relies on replicating high performance layer 1 streams using optical technologies. Another method relies on replicating L2 streams using high performance computational servers. With its research partners, iCAIR has demonstrated these techniques at national and international conferences, including at national supecomputing conferences, e.g., SC05 and SC06.
Global Internet Digital Video Network (GiDVN) at iGRID2000
iCAIR demonstrated the world's first prototype Global Internet Digital Video Network (GiDVN) in July, 2000. (ref: www.startap.net/igrid2000/) The GiDVN was showcased as part of the International GRID (iGRID) at the INET2000 Conference in Yokohama Japan, as a sequel to a GiDVN event at the Supercomputing98 (SC98) conference---presented with SingAREN, the advanced research network of Singapore. The GiDVN demonstrations included a broad range of Internet-based advanced media technologies being developed by major research organizations world-wide. The GiDVN, a media network spanning ten countries on three continents, demonstrates the transition from today's analog media networks to more powerful digital capabilities enabled by advanced Internet technologies. These collaborations are necessary so that societies around the world can benefit from enhanced interaction and communications for broad-based education, healthcare, environmental and economic development. Among the GiDVN technologies demonstrated were high performance intercontinental streaming media, new techniques based on architectures developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (www.IETF.org), including specialized multicasting, which optimizes the Internet for media, and "Differentiated Services" (DiffServ), which can provide for the prioritizing of Internet traffic for media and other applications. The GiDVN is a collaborative effort involving 35 research scientists in Canada, CERN (Switzerland), Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and the US (www.icair.org/inet2000/). The demonstrations were supported by 15 major advanced national and regional networks. The project was motivated by the Digital Video Working group of the Coordination Committee for Intercontinental Research Networks (www.ccirn.org)
High Performance Digital Video at iGRID2002
iCAIR was one of the organizing partners of iGRID events, and has demonstrated at these forums digital media applications, including some based on dynamic lightpath provisioning, for example using OMNInet (ref: www.startap.net/igrid2002/) These applications are particularly bandwidth intensive (eg, requiring 10 Gbps in both directions) and most are based on Grid computing infrastructure. During international iGRID2002 in Amsterdam, iCAIR and Path1 Network Technologies, Inc. (www.path1.com) also demonstrated an innovative capability for global, high-quality, high performance digital video. This experiment demonstrated high performance, end-to-end, real-time broadcast quality video transported uncompressed from the StarLight facility (www.startap.net/starlight/) in Chicago to SARA Reken-en Netwerkdiensten, in Amsterdam (www.sara.nl), a Dutch national expertise centre in the field of High-Performance Computing and High-Performance Networking. For further information, see DV at iGrid2002. During iGRID2002, iCAIR also was involved with the next generation Internet project in Barcelona and the University of Washington on a digital media project related to Spanish culture.
Digital Media Access Methods
iCAIR has been experimenting with developing new types of access methods for network based digital media. These include methods for creating metadata for digital video objects, digital object tagging, converting video objects to sequences of story boards that allow access by frame images, and converting the audio track of video objects to text and using the text to find scene sequences, including pointers to storyboard frames.
Digital Video Portal
The Digital Video Portal is a research project focused on new methods for providing interactive digital media content and services over the next generation Internet. It has been developing prototype technologies and a reference implementation for a Digital Video Portal.(Ref VideoPortalV2) The Video Portal provides channel services for various topics, metadata capabilities, content storage and management services, new types of methods for accessing digital media content, and capabilities for the distributed management of video multicast content. (VPStoryBoards, VPContentManagement) The original DVP project development was funded by IBM. The Video Portal uses non-commercial software tools, including some created by IBM research centers. (Ref: VideoPortalV1) This project is related to iCAIR's C-SPAN initiative. Two of the DVP channels are C-SPAN1 and C-SPAN2. (Ref: C-SPAN VideoPortal)
Digital Video Multicast Services
iCAIR has established prototype digital media services, which have been multicast regionally, nationally, and internationally. For example, with an international medical science corporation, iCAIR has established a project to provide digital research and education bioinformatics, medical science, molecular research, and pharmaceutical content world-wide over international research networks. iCAIR also worked with Chicago's Field Museum on a multicast related to Project Environmental Rescue, an electronic field trip. In a joint project with Prous Science, iCAIR produced a multicast of a medical conference session originating in California. With Northwestern's Medical School, the Radiological Society of North America, the National Institutes of Health, and the Metropolitan Exposition and Pier Authority, iCAIR produced an international multicast event on the topic of image interpretation.
Digital Media Encoding and Transit
The digital media projects at iCAIR utilize high performance media streaming. Encoding has generally focused on MPEG formats. However, some iCAIR digital media projects focus on technologies capable of streaming at much higher rates, e.g, 27 Mpbs, 600 Mbps and 1.2 Gbps. For example, iCAIR has experimented with ASI/SDI over IP, an experimental non-compressed DV over IP method at 270M/s,and bridge ASI (digital cable TV) over IP at 80M/s. Also, iCAIR is involved in developing new transit technologies, such as the VideoHub, a joint research project with IBM. In addition, iCAIR has undertaken multiple projects involving implementations of IETF DiffServ QoS to support digital video transit, including regional, national and international testbed research experiments.
C-SPAN-iCAIR Digital Video Internet Multicast
Since 2000, iCAIR and C-SPAN have been engaged in a project to develop and deploying a high quality broadband digital video multicast capability for next generation Internets. As a first step, iCAIR provided a multicast C-SPAN service for two channels, C-SPAN1 and C-SPAN2, over the Metropolitan Research and Education Network (MREN) for over a year. Later, this service was provided nationally. Since January 2001, these multicasts have been provided over the national and international research networks and federal agency networks.
Collaborative Environments and the International Virtual Institute for Materials Science
iCAIR is participating in a number of projects related to digital media and collaborative environments. For example, in partnership with Northwestern's Material Science Research Center, iCAIR has designed and developed the International Virtual Institute for Materials Sciences, which has the functionality of a research and education institution - in cyberspace instead of the physical world. Many components are based on advanced Internet digital media. Early prototypes of the International Virtual Institute have been shown at a number of conferences, in the US and internationally. iCAIR support national multicast collaborative research and education sessions for the Nanotechnology Center for Education and Technology. iCAIR has established a partnership with the Electronic Visualization Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the CAVE technology was invented (www.evl.uic.edu). At SC98 (Supercomputing conference in November 1998), the Center in partnership with MREN and the NASA NREN network showcased a demonstration of scientific visualizations based on CAVE technology. An existing Northwestern project uses CAVE technology for industrial design. iCAIR also worked with Avaya on the evaluation and development of research technologies for teleconferencing among large groups over advanced Internets. Avaya and iCAIR established several project in applying advanced IETF techniques, including Diffserv and Intserv, to a variety of digital media services, including those that allow for the creation of new types of "virtual spaces," for communications.
Distributed DV Information Systems
iCAIR has been working with its research partners, including IBM, on various projects for distributed digital media, included those related to caching and replication serving. One project relates to high performance capabilities for streaming digital video on demand. Other projects are centered on video conference technologies. iCAIR has also worked on related technologies with Micah Beck of the University of Tennessee (Knoxville).
Digital Media Signaling
Signaling functions are an important part of digital media services. iCAIR has investigated various types of media signaling processes, including those related to the IETF Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). SIP can be utilized for many types of media conferencing functions as well as for specialized media signaling capabilities.
Digital Media Grid
The Digital Media Grid is a project that has been investigating design and development concepts for a global digital media infrastructure that could support high-quality media services to an international science community through various advanced research networks, and by doing so, eventually to allow for (through technology transfer) high-quality digital video services for the extended Internet community. This project is also investigating very highly granulated digital media streaming, and capabilities for high performance digital media file transfers.
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