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Content archived on 2024-05-27

Multi-tier Architecture for Distributed Interactive SimulatiON


The objective of the MADISON project is to develop and implement an architecture, based on the standardization efforts in the fields of HLA and MPEG-4 and in the work of the dis-java-vrml standardization group, which can be employed for the design, development and deployment of short-range multiuser simulation environments and for the provision of new types of services based on semi-real content. The MADISON project brings together complementary expertise from 7 different organisations, which cover all the different technical facets of the project: an MPEG-4 expert, a 3-D graphics expert, a network acceleration expert, a behaviour modelling expert, a hardware expert, a software developer and systems integrator, and a digital TV provider.

Network latency continues to be the main barrier for the deployment of distributed interactive simulation (DIS) applications. Partial solutions exist for particular domains, like military scenarios, but the need exists for a complete architecture which integrates the different standardisation efforts and addresses the requirements of highly interactive, consumer-oriented DIS scenarios.

The objective of the MADISON project is to develop and implement such an architecture. To this end, the project will develop:
1) A high-performance FPGA-based MPEG-4 render
2) A set-top box to be used as a DIS-client terminal
3) An optimised MPEG-4/DIS network acceleration middleware
4) A DIS-oriented simulation server,
5) A set of methods and tools suitable for describing all behavioural aspects of DIS.
Having defined the architecture and developed the different components, the architecture will be tested deploying the system in a broadcast-type pilot.

Work description:
The workplan is divided into three main phases:
PHASE I: Definition of the MADISON architecture (Months 0-3)
PHASE II: Implementation of the component layers (Months 3-18)
PHASE III: System integration and pilot testing (Months 18-24) A different WP has been defined for each main component in Phase II:
* MPEG-4/VRML codec: The already existing, FPGA-based 3D accelerator from Memondo Graphics will be enhanced during the course of the project to include MPEG-4/VRML support, collision detection features, and direct support for the latency reduction mechanisms of the network protocol
* Set-top box: The set-top box is based on functional units linked trough a PCI backbone. The heart of the system is a powerful 32/64 bit embedded processor. It controls the high performance MPEG-4 codec, a digital signal processing unit based on a multimedia processor, the audio/video interfaces, and a permanent memory.
* Network acceleration middleware: The same techniques for latency reduction already applied by Synchronix to their application domains will be tested for MPEG-4 / DIS transfer of information. An IP based network protocol will be defined and implemented according to the test results.
* Behaviour definition toolset: A set of methods and tools suitable for describing all behavioural aspects of distributed, interactive simulations (DIS) will be developed in accordance with the architecture defined in the first phase and running on the digital-TV infrastructure. The tools will enable the developers to provide authoritaive representations of the natural environment, systems and human behaviour.
* Simulation server: It receives and processes information concerning simulation entities through the exchange of DIS PDUs. A set of tools will be developed so as to control the vatars using different input techniques.

Milestone 1 (Month 6): Architecture and specification of system components completed
Milestone 2 (Month 12): First implementation results available
Milestone 3 (Month 18): All system components implemented
Milestone 4 (Month 24): Operational pilot The following results will be available at the end of the project: 1. MPEG-4 codec / 2. MPEG-4 enabled set-top box / 3. DIS/MPEG-4 network acceleration middleware product 4. DIS server / 5. DIS oriented behaviour definition tools

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
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4430 ANS

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Total cost
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Participants (6)