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USC-Honolulu Videoconference Demonstrates High Quality, Low-Cost Internet Streaming

February 05, 2004 —

Students explained the advantages of a broadband Internet connection for videoconferencing at a live demonstration between USC and the University of Hawaii last week.
Businesses that use videoconferencing know that pictures are worth a thousand words but they wince at the cost. It currently takes thousands of dollars for a dedicated phone line and the specialized equipment required for high quality audio and video hookups..

The USC Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) at the School of Engineering has an alternative: a robust but inexpensive, high-definition video and audio streaming system that uses broadband Internet connections..

In a demonstration Jan. 29, Roger Zimmermann, research area director in IMSC’s Media Immersion Environment, used inexpensive components that are approximately a tenth of the cost of standard videoconference setups to broadcast high definition video and two-channel audio from USC to the University of Hawaii. During the 10-minute linkup, two of Zimmermann’s students in IMSC’s integrated media laboratory -- Dwipal Desai and Moses Pawar -- explained the technical details of the system to researchers attending a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Advanced Network Consortium in Honolulu.

“Business teleconferencing can now be much more affordable and flexible over the Internet,” Zimmermann explained. “In the past, businesses have had to pay the extra cost of dedicated lines among company sites for teleconferencing. But now they will be able to use the Internet for extremely high-quality, low-cost teleconferencing and other applications.”

Earlier Internet implementations of live media streaming suffered from a number of limitations, Zimmermann said. Most produce low-resolution poor quality video with inferior sound. A few systems have achieved high picture quality, but they require very costly equipment.

Zimmermann’s group integrated an MPEG-over-FireWire acquisition module, a low latency transmission protocol, and a high-speed software decoder in their new system.

The live streaming system is a component of the High Performance Data Recording Architecture (HYDRA) project. The goal of HYDRA is to improve current applications and enable new ones by acting as an efficient media stream coordinator that manages the transmission, recording and playback of many different data streams simultaneously.

More information about HYDRA is available at http://dmrl.usc.edu/hydra. The Integrated Media Systems Center is the National Science Foundation’s only engineering research center dedicated to multimedia and Internet research. For additional information about the center, visit their website at http://imsc.usc.edu.