iCAIR News

ICAIR builds landmark portal
By Marsha Barancik, dbusiness.com
July 27, 2000

EXCLUSIVE EVANSTON, Ill., July 27 (dbusiness.com) -- Technology being developed at the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University (iCAIR) should excite Tom Cruise fans, but consumers will be the last Internet users to gain access to it.

Last week, the world's first prototype Global Internet Digital Video Network (GiDVN) was showcased at the INET2000 Conference in Yokohama Japan. The multi-media technology improves the quality of digital video seen on the Internet. The technology was coordinated by iCAIR in Evanston, but was developed over a course of years by 35 scientists in 10 countries. "A single organization could not have done this," Joel Mambretti, the center's director, told dbusiness.com. However, a sequel to the project, the Internet portal software required to view digital video, is being developed by Evanston's iCAIR. The Evanston center has been working on portal software for viewing digital video on a broadband network for nearly two years, Mambretti added.

"We are currently working on a digital video portal that is intended for a replacement for text and graphic portals, for interactive media," Mambretti said. "We expect to have a generally available portal for people that have high-speed, high-performance [Internet] connection in three months."

When the portal is released, the center will publish a URL that users can visit to check out the digital video. Mambretti said three to four million people will have access to it at that time. Advanced high-speed broadband networks that function at 2 megabits or above, will initially accommodate use of the digital video network.

Like most major Internet developments, this product was conceived by scientists and will be available first to university students in the Metropolitan Research and Education Network, which represents seven Midwest states. "This is where technology starts. Businesses see it later," Mambretti said. "Consumers are the last to see the new technologies."

In May, iCAIR completed a major research phase in a project that will dramatically improve broadcast imagery on the Internet. The prototype was scheduled for a release this summer.

Funded by Northwestern University, IBM, Cisco Systems and Ameritech, iCAIR sealed an agreement with C-SPAN earlier this year to develop a prototype that will deliver real-time, television-quality imagery on a computer monitor. About 15 researchers work in the Evanston center and about eight come from IBM.

Marsha Barancik is a staff writer for dbusiness.com. E-mail her with story ideas or comments.

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