The Multimedia Virtual Laboratory (MVL) and Its Application to Cooperative Research

Shin'ichi Hama (hama(AT)

Communications Research Laboratory
4-2-1 Nukui-kita, Koganei, Tokyo 184, Japan

The concept of an MVL (Multimedia Virtual Laboratory) was proposed by the Telecommunications Technology Council in May 1996, in consideration of recent technological development in telecommunications. The MPT (Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Japan) strongly recommends the creation of the MVL, and began efforts toward this end in 1997.

The MVL has many potential applications, such as in teleconferencing, application sharing, wearable computers, virtual reality using ``cave,'' and so on. But we would like to demonstrate the possibilities for cooperative research in the VLBI field, the MVL is not merely ``an improved TV phone.'' Researchers in distant places have been able to communicate with each other for development of network technology, as shown in Table 1. But large quantities of data has not been able to be transported by network.

Some of the MVL projects needing cooperation between industries, academies, and administrative organs, are carried out by TAO (Telecommunications Advancement Organization of Japan). And some, which should be led by the government, are carried out by the CRL (Communications Research Laboratory, Japan). The latter ones are generally ambitious and science-oriented projects. We expect to establish the basic system in the first two or three years, and carry out experiments later.

With the construction of the MVL, researchers in different laboratories, institutes and universities can be connected for mutual cooperations to increase efficiency and to reduce the costs of research and development. Particularly in VLBI and earth environment sensing, sharing a large quantity of raw data between researchers is highly useful. By connecting the radio telescopes and VLBI data processors of the CRL's KSP (Key Stone Project), NAO (National Astronomical Observatory), ISAS (Institute of Space and Astronautical Science), and other institutes, as shown in the Figure, we expect to achieve such benefits as distributed VLBI data processing, comparison of correlation processing between different systems, and realtime feedback of observation parameters.

Table 1. Communication between distant researchers
Communications Medium Type of information
Talk, Atmosphere Document,Small data Figures,Photos Control,Monitor Large data (~1 Gps)
Conventional (telephone) (TV)phone, TV conferencing Fax Fax, TV conferencing modem (send MT)
Network TV phone, VR*, TV conferencing E-mail,ftp, NFS E-mail (MIME), WWW, X terminal ftp, rsh ?
* VR: Virtual reality

Figure 1. Multimedia virtual laboratory.

Updated on June 9, 1997. Return to CONTENTS