Remote Media Immersion, a breakthrough Internet technology that generates an immersive three-dimensional experience on home theater-sized screens, was unveiled by the Integrated Media Systems Center, part of the University of Southern California’s School of Engineering and a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center.
The power of Remote Media Immersion, a patented technology that combines high-resolution video and immersive audio technologies, was demonstrated using dramatic footage of the space shuttle launch on a large 9 – by 5 – foot screen, providing the audience with an unrivalled sense of the sights and sounds of a lift-off.
Remote Media Immersion merges the flexibility and interactivity of Web browsing with high-fidelity imagery and immersive audio, delivering an experience superior to traditionally ‘flat’ Internet and broadcast video technologies.
“Remote Media Immersion provides the clearest vision yet of how the audio-visual experience will evolve over the coming decade,” Ulrich Neumann, director of the Integrated Media Systems Center and a USC professor of computer science.
Researchers said the technology – using the high-speed capabilities of the Internet to transmit multiple streams of picture and sound across the nation – dramatically surpasses the quality achievable with high-definition broadcast television.
“This offers an IMAX-type experience without having to use special cameras or theaters – all via the Internet,” said C.L. “Max” Nikias, dean of the USC School of Engineering.
“This is not simply an incremental improvement in streaming media. We have effectively re-created the experience of being at a remote occasion such as a sports event, concert or videoconference,” said Nikias.
Major corporations, universities, and government agencies already have access to broadband services of 60 megabits per second or more, said Neumann, and these are potential users of Remote Media Immersion technology today.
“However, even at lower data rates of 10-20 megabits per second – which widely deployed broadband access technologies will attain within five years – Remote Media Immersion will deliver significant improvements over current technology,” he said.
Integrated Media Systems Center researchers use less than half the compression needed for broadcast high-definition TV, thus affording greater clarity of the final picture. The uncompressed HDTV video data rate of 1.5 gigabits per second is compressed to 35-45 megabits per second, as compared to standard high-definition television’s maximum data rate of 19.4 megabits per second after compression.
Yima, the trademarked software and hardware streaming architecture developed at the Integrated Media Systems Center, delivers multiple, simultaneous high-bandwidth streams of images and sound, all synchronized with each other. Novel network protocols for error correction and synchronization are implemented in the Yima architecture.
Multichannel Immersive Audio uses multiple loudspeakers and algorithms to generate the sound field that can immerse a group – rather than just a single individual – in extremely realistic audio environments. Ten loudspeakers and two low-frequency subwoofers (for 10.2 channels rather than the 5.1 channels of commercially available Surround Sound) will be used to seamlessly envelop the audience in a three-dimensional sound field.
A further Integrated Media Systems Center innovation is the development of Remote Media Immersion as a distributed application rather than a point-to-point system. Servers in multiple cities can host a movie, and all may be called on to transmit various parts of the movie’s video and audio streams – offering critical protection against delays in Internet traffic and other problems. All streams arrive at the user’s destination to provide a complete, synchronized presentation.
The Integrated Media Systems Center was established in 1996 by the National Science Foundation as its only Engineering Research Center for multimedia and Internet research. The center has earned wide recognition for the pioneering development of “Immersipresence,” its vision of the future of the Internet.
“We regard Immersipresence as the next great breakthrough in this Digital Age,” said Nikias. “We believe it will dramatically transform today’s two-dimensional world of computers, TV, film and audio into three-dimensional immersive environments in homes, offices, schools and theaters.”