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VIRtual Team User Environment

Objective

You are at a meeting table with people spaced around in front of you. You are able to communicate with them effectively as if they are sitting next to you in the same room, in fact you are led to believe they are present in the same room - but they are actually located at several remote locations. For many types of meeting this high-realism telepresence conferencing system will replace the need to travel. Technologies in computer vision and graphics have developed to a position where this vision is achievable. VIRTUE will make this happen in Europe. Achieving this vision will require practical and efficient solutions to technology issues, most importantly wide viewpoint synthesis from multiple cameras that deals with occlusion, and object segmentation from non-uniform backgrounds. A comprehensive set of user experiments will ensure the result is an empirically validated demonstrator. You are at a meeting table with people spaced around in front of you. You are able to communicate with them effectively as if they are sitting next to you in the same room, in fact you are led to believe they are present in the same room - but they are actually located at several remote locations. For many types of meeting this high-realism telepresence conferencing system will replace the need to travel. Technologies in computer vision and graphics have developed to a position where this vision is achievable. VIRTUE will make this happen in Europe. Achieving this vision will require practical and efficient solutions to technology issues, most importantly wide viewpoint synthesis from multiple cameras that deals with occlusion, and object segmentation from non-uniform backgrounds. A comprehensive set of user experiments will ensure the result is an empirically validated demonstrator.

OBJECTIVES
VIRTUE's main project objectives are:
1. To develop the innovative technology necessary to produce a convincing impression of presence in a semi-immersive teleconferencing system;
2. To integrate and demonstrate a telepresence system incorporating such innovative techniques;
3. To investigate the human factors involved in maximising the effectiveness and realism of telepresence and to use them to drive the design of the system.

DESCRIPTION OF WORK
The project consists of five logical phases listed in chronological order below although they overlap significantly in start and end dates:
- Requirements (based on human factors and technical issues);
- Algorithm development (image acquisition and rendering algorithms suitable to be ported to the real-time platform);
- Real-time platform implementation ( developing a real-time image processing platform and implementing the algorithms upon it);
- System implementation (development of the system components including audio and video coding, virtual environment and construction of the complete end-to-end system incorporating the real-time platform);
- Assessment (technical and user assessment tests) In addition, Human Factors experiments will be performed in parallel with these technology developments.

The project therefore consists of five workpackages as follows:
- Algorithms - this workpackage will develop novel image processing algorithms for telepresence videoconferencing that are suitable to be ported t the real-time platform;
- Real-time platform - development of a real-time platform for analysis and rendering and porting the code developed in the Algorithms workpackage to it;
- System - construction of an end-to-end system including physical system set-up, coding, transmission and display;
- Human factors - user requirements analysis, human factors experiments on each of the key features of the system and system evaluation;
-Management - management of the project including planning, proactive management, tracking progress and taking corrective actions when required, reporting, publicity and exploitation plans.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC
Address
81 Newgate Street
EC1A 7AJ London
United Kingdom

Participants (5)

FRAUNHOFER-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN FORSCHUNG E.V
Germany
Address
Hansastrasse 27C
Muenchen
HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY
United Kingdom
Address
Riccarton
EH14 4AS Edinburgh
NETHERLANDS ORGANISATION FOR APPLIED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH - TNO
Netherlands
Address
Schoemakerstraat 97
2628 VK Delft
SONY UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED
United Kingdom
Address
The Heights, Brooklands
KT13 0XW Weybridge
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITEIT DELFT
Netherlands
Address
Julianalaan 134
2628 BL Delft