19 Sep Deep sea event will put spotlight on Internet 2 capabilities
Madison, Wis. – Say the word “teleconferencing” and people are likely to think of postage stamp size videos of staid corporate meetings, running over MSN Messenger or iChat. So how about high-definition video of the seafloor?
Audiences will have the opportunity to watch just that next week at the “20,000 Terabits Beneath The Sea” event, hosted locally by the UW-Madison Division of Information Technology. Viewing sessions are set for Sept. 28 and Sept. 29, both between 3:30 and 5 p.m.
An unmanned vehicle, equipped with a high-definition camera, will go along the depths of the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the Pacific Ocean, demonstrating the strange forms life can take under such extreme conditions as a volcano range.
Video will be transmitted live to studios at the University of Washington campus at Seattle, then transmitting over Internet 2 viewers in San Diego, Australia, Tokyo, Chicago and Madison.
As impressive as the biology exhibition is, it is ultimately a flashy exhibition of the underlying Internet2 technology, using a record-breaking 4.5 gigabits per second of bandwidth split over three channels, shattering the previous record of 900 megabits per second.
“When you’re working in scientific or medical fields where high definition is necessary — for instance, if you’re interpreting x-rays or trying to find stars in a very dense picture or something like that — high definition is necessary,” said Dave Devereaux-Weber, a network engineer for UW-Madison and local coordinator of the event, who is also working with staff at the University of Washington and with Internet2 infrastructure called WiscWaves, which connects facilities in Chicago and Madison.
What key in next week’s event is getting high-definition video transmitted over a network connection in an uncompressed format. While all digital transmissions have some delay time, compression can introduce up to 30 seconds of extra dead time. That means a person asking a question could have to wait a minute for a reply, and that’s even when assuming an instantaneous answer can be given at the other end.
While the technology will have serious uses, such as medical surgeries, the transmission demonstration is intended to draw attention to the technology in an interesting manner.
“Early on in the development of a technology like this, you do things that are demonstration projects that aren’t real projects,” Devereaux-Weber explained, “because you wouldn’t want to actually be doing surgery while testing new technology and finding out, `Oh, sorry, it won’t work.'”