Context Aware network architectures for Sending Multiple Senses (CASMS)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Electrical Engineering and Electronics

Abstract

Future networks will be expected to communicate information pertaining to more than the two senses (aural and visual) we currently use to communicate remotely. It is clear that introducing into networks the ability to carry information relating to other senses will open up an enormous potential for both new and dramatically improved applications. A collaboration involving the University of Liverpool and University College London with relevant industrial and academic partners has been created to engage in a programme of research that aims to establish a unique facility in the UK that employs dedicated high-speed network links to combine research centres in virtual and immersive reality in order to open up new capability for research into distributed VR/AR systems, and particularly to investigate how we can embed other sensory channels such as touch and smell into these applications and remotely access them. The main partner centres will also operate as gateways hubs to permit access from other research facilities; this will be demonstrated by extending the connectivity to the Virtual Engineering Centre at Daresbury, and (via NDFIS connection at UCL) to the University of Bristol.

While future VR/AR applications will require reasonably high data rates to support high definition and stereoscopic video streams and localized server updates (in real-time) of VR/AR environments, the key aspect will be ensuring that the network can deliver the different media streams (video, sound, touch, olfactory etc) within acceptable times, and can maintain synchronization between them. The ability to provide highly actuate timing for delay-sensitive HCI applications will open up a range of new research areas involving for example, HCI using multi-sensory channels, high-performance compute platforms for distributing such media-rich applications as well as the applications themselves such as advanced manufacturing and design for the automotive and avionics industries, and in assistive technologies.

The sustainability and impact (research and industrial) of CASMS will be ensured by implementing a steering committee consisting of the project partners and other members of key stakeholders, who will work with the management team to identify new research collaborations and potential partnerships, and to help disseminate and exploit the IP and other knowledge generated by this new facility.

Planned Impact

It is clear that introducing into networks the ability to carry information relating to other senses will open up an enormous potential for both new and dramatically improved applications. The interdisciplinary nature of CASMS will help bring together a range of currently disparate industries, such as the manufacturing, VR and the communications industries. It will contribute directly to new learning involving the design of network architectures to support multi-sensory transmission. Such research will have strong relevance to emerging networking concepts such as the Tactile Internet (requiring low latency and highly reliable services) and its associated ITU working group, as well as augmenting the current body of research in context aware networks, which does not consider the delivery of multi-sensory information in real time over long distances. Moreover, once established, CASMS network test bed will also serve as a (national, international) facility for investigations into distributed multi-sensory applications.

Benefits accruing from this research
The beneficiaries include:
- People. Other researchers interested in this new area will benefit from access to a completely new facility. Typically this will be researchers into new forms of HCI and network designers, e.g. for context-aware networking). More generally the public will benefit from it, e.g. in entertainment, broadcasting etc, where the ability to sense and then remotely reconstruct odour streams alongside video and sound streams will introduce a much greater sense of realism into teleconferences, broadcasts, augmented reality and games.

- Economic benefits. All aspects of the research will open up new avenues of communications and networked applications that can be commercially exploited, e.g. by the entertainment industry and the Health and Safety industries. As this is a completely new facility, many of the areas to which it can be applied are yet to be determined, however some examples include those associated with enhanced HCI such as assistive technologies and advanced manufacturing. These are multi-million dollar industries, and the ability to capture even a very small fraction of these will ensure a high economic return.

- Ensuring economic and societal impact. All the partners are very well aware of the importance of translating research into tangible impact, particularly through engagement with industry, e.g. by start-up or to enhance/generate new products in existing companies, e.g., in the entertainment industries. Moreover the vision that CASMS aims to promote will permit research that offers to enhance society in general e.g. in assistive technologies, and in smart cities.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The VR Cave with haptic and olfactory capabilities is now used for outreach activities.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal