We have witnessed tremendous progress in the buildup of communication networks in the past decade, driven by technologies that endow broad bandwidth and mobility to the user. For example, the information transfer rate of fiber optics was boosted from around 100Mb/s at the beginning of the 1980s to nearly 100Gb/s towards the end of the last century, and has grown at an even faster pace to reach over 1Tb/s in the last few years with dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technologies, outstripping Moore’s law in the growth of complexity in memory and processors. Broadband access (such as DSL and cable modem) and wireless technologies (from digital cellular to wireless local area networks, from 2G to 3G and beyond) also help make fast information transfer possible anytime, anywhere.
While broadband and wireless technologies have greatly improved the delivery of information, the packet-based connectivity model of the network promises the needed flexibility and efficiency for information sharing. We differentiate delivery from sharing. Delivery focuses on transporting information from one party to another; sharing encompasses immersive experience in granting and receiving the information, together with all the parties involved. Information sharing is multi-dimensional (from notion to emotion), multi-modal (involving sight, sound and touch), and asynchronous (at times event-driven from various modalities). The challenge is in our ability to capture the multi-dimensional information, to create the proper context and content, to efficiently transmit the information, and to fuse the information so as to be able to re-create remotely the immersive experience as faithfully as possible. Communication is, according to Colin Cherry’s definition, information sharing. We are thus just entering the Communication Age.
In order to realize the vision of multi-dimensional information sharing, we need to meet many challenges in the area of digital signal processing, communication and information theory, and system development and integration that put these technologies into work. Our research agenda focuses on opportunities that arise in these areas and can be broadly categorized in three main cohesive directions:
- Immersive Acoustics – Multi-channel Signal Processing for Next-generation Teleconferencing & Communication
- Intelligent Collaboration: An NSF supported project
- Shared Reality – Multi-modal Control and Manipulation of 3D Objects in Shared Space for Collaboration
- Speech Recognition and Understanding – Uncovering and Utilizing Intelligence in Natural Communications