Advanced Digital Media Projects
iCAIR has led multiple international digital media communications initiatives, including those that can provide prototypes of future media services that can be experienced today, at selected, labs, research centers, and specialized venues.
- 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.
- Extended Media Conferencing, 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 visualizations and projected 3D objects.
- High Performance Digital Media Services
With its research partners, iCAIR has established digital media initiatives that are creating new architecture, methods and technology that represent a fundamental departure from traditional approach to digital media services. Currently, providing high quality, high performance digital media services on the Internet is a major challenge. However, future demands will be far more aggressive than today’s, including demands that are related to capacity, quality, capability, performance and reliability. Existing network services cannot meet these needs. For example, traditional techniques used for large scale digital media streaming are severely limited because traditional networks have been designed to manage a small range of foundation services on a fairly static infrastructure, provisioned as a centrally controlled series of hierarchical layers.
iCAIR and its research partners are addressing these challenges by leveraging several macro trends in architecture and technology development, including those related to Services Oriented Architecture (SOA), virtualization, integration of services and foundation resource capabilities, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), programmable networking, multi-layer and multi-domain service provisioning, and others. Virtualization provides new potential for creating techniques allowing for integrating network resources at all layers, including low level components. A related technique is the close integration of services and support resource capabilities: both by using virtualization techniques, and by using specialized signaling and API processes, including those based on web services. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) allows all resources, including physical infrastructure, to be provided as a service, which allows for a high degree of flexibility, customization, resource utilization and optimization, reliability, and dynamic response to changing requirements. These techniques support an emerging model of Programmable Networks, based on techniques that can transform network resources from static resources to dynamic resources. This new architecture allows for complementing today’s L3 digital media services with those based also on L2 and L1 services. This architecture also allows for multi-domain provisioning.
- High Performance Digital Media networks and HPDMnet
iCAIR conducts its research and development projects in part by implementing new services and technologies on large scale testbeds, especially those implemented in metro areas, regionally, nationally and internationally. Currently, iCAIR is developing techniques on several national and international testbeds. One international testbed is the High Performance Digital Media Network (HPDMnet) and its related activities comprise an experimental network research initiative that is designing, developing and implementing the world's first international high performance service specifically created for high quality, large-scale digital media, including support for extremely high volume media streams. This initiative represents a complete departure from existing services, which are based on legacy services and technologies and which cannot meet many emerging needs for high quality, reliable services. By using advanced concepts, architecture, and technology, this initiative is providing a foundation for future digital media services, as well as for other data-intensive applications. This initiative was established as a cooperative partnership by several major network research centers. Because this initiative is a research project, it is continually progressing through on-going iterations. Major milestones are indicated in part by large scale demonstrations at national and international forums.
The High Performance Digital Media Network (HPDMnet) is related to a set of activities, including basic research and development, design and analysis of investigative experiments, the management of an international testbed, provision of prototype services, demonstrations at public national and international venues, and publication of information about activities. HPDMnet is an experimental network research initiative that is designing, developing, and implementing the world’s first international high performance service for high quality, large-scale digital media that will be required in the future. HPDMnet is designed to support extremely large media streams, including those that are multiple Gbps. The basic architecture is scalable to 10 Gbps and higher volume streams. However, the majority of current research is focused on 1 Gbps streams supported by an L2/L1 service. However, it is possible to extend this service to other layers. This initiative is a major advance beyond such legacy services, which are based on architecture and technologies that have been in use for many years. Traditional network based digital media services are highly limited in many areas and cannot scale to meet emerging requirements. The approach represented by this project provides powerful capabilities not only for future digital media services but also for many other types of large scale data-intensive applications.
- Digital Media and 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 supercomputing conferences.
- Digital Media Clients, Portals, and Access Methods
iCAIR has been experimenting with developing new types of access methods for network based digital media. These include the design of new types of media clients, 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. 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 Media Multicast Services and CSPAN
iCAIR has established several multicast research projects, including those that developed prototype digital media multicast services, which have been implemented regionally, nationally, and internationally. For example, with an international medical science corporation, iCAIR 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 multicasts of medical conference sessions. 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. 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.
- Digital Media Signaling, Encoding, and Transit
The digital media research and development projects at iCAIR utilize high performance media streaming, which relies on many underlying technologies. For example, 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.. Also, 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 Mbps, 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.
- 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). During an international supercomputing conference, the Center in partnership with MREN and the NASA NREN network showcased a demonstration of scientific visualizations based on CAVE technology. 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.
- Digital Media Distributed Systems, Grids, and CineGrid
iCAIR participates in multiple research projects that are researching distributed digital media systems, included those related to live streaming, caching and replication serving over large scale fabrics, including many remote sites. One project relates to high performance capabilities for streaming digital video on demand. iCAIR is been involved in several Digital Media Grid projects, which have 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. iCAIR a participating member of the international CineGrid initiative, which provides media researchers, academic communities and professionals advanced media services capable of supporting ultra-high-performance digital streams using photonic networks, as well as the middleware, transport protocols and collaboration tools originally developed for scientific research, visualization, and Grid computing.
- Showcases and Demonstrations
iCAIR demonstrates advanced digital media services and technologies at regional, national, and international conferences, workshops, special events and other venues.. These demonstrations showcase advanced digital media services using next generation Internet technologies. For example, iCAIR has organized advanced media demonstrations during the SC Conferences, the international supercomputing conferences, and during each of 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.
- High Performance Digital Video at iGRIDs
iCAIR is one of the organizing partners of iGRID events, and the Center has demonstrated at these forums digital media applications, including some based on dynamic lightpath provisioning, for example using OMNInet and iGRID 2005 and 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 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 in Chicago to SARA Reken-enNetwerkdiensten)in Amsterdam, a Dutch national expertise centre in the field of High-Performance Computing and High-Performance Networking.
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 (IETF), 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. 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 (CCIRN.org)