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Virtual Reality and Immersive Media

Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 video are reshaping the media landscape, changing our daily lives and the way we interact with each other. They are creating a fertile business environment, enabling new social and interactive VR formats, where viewers connect more empathically with the content and with others. The combination of photorealistic capture techniques and immersive displays result in a new set of research challenges. In particular, DIS focuses on novel strategies for compression and transmission of real-time reconstructed 3D data in Internet infrastructures, and on the objective and subjective evaluation of such technologies. Our work, partly distributed as open source, has led to the start of a consumer industry standardization activity in Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) on point cloud compression, serving as the basis to generate the anchors included in the recent call for proposals. All these activities and results position DIS as a leading expert on immersive media technologies and QoE evaluation.

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Ubiquitous Computing

We conduct research at the intersections of ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligence and human computer interaction. With increased computing power, shrinking hardware, ubiquitous wireless networks, and widespread adoption of personal computing devices, we are entering into a new technological era of how humans interact with machines. This is made possible through embedding (at times personal and imperceptible) low-cost and low-power sensors and devices into our everyday environments.

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Multi-Screen Media Production, Consumption and Sharing

Technological advances are resulting in a complex media ecosystem, in which streaming media can reach a variety of end-devices using a heterogeneous set of delivery methods. Such development allows ubiquitous media consumption, where users to consume digital content via a connected ecosystem of devices, whenever they want and wherever they are. Still many challenges remain at the production, distribution, and user levels. DIS is developing novel mechanisms for group-based consumption, enriching, and sharing of media content. This results in research breakthroughs such as production tools for facilitating “on demand” temporal media-based compilations for multi-screen consumption of media, optimization algorithms for ubiquitous rendering of media based on the user context and intention, and seminal works on secondary screens and social TV.

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Quality of Experience

In Quality of Experience (QoE) we want to understand how the quality of a system or service affects the experience of users. When does a long delay in tele-communication disrupt the conversation and when do we not even notice at all? How much bandwidth does a videostream need that we really feel we are getting a better quality? It turns out, to understand the experience of users, taking personal and situational factors into account is as important as the actual quality of the system. Media consumption has become a ubiquitous part of life and if we want to optimize our systems understanding the interplay of situation, personality and system quality is a key requirement.

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Experience Aware Networking

Experience Aware Networking leverages novel network paradigms (i.e. Software Defined Networking) and the state-of-the-art of Quality of Experience (QoE) research to optimize the experience of users in adaptive media applications. Video is already the #1 traffic source in the Internet and new services are emerging rapidly, such as VR or AR. As a consequence, networks suffer from bottlenecks due too heavy traffic loads, too many users, or a combination of both. Current network resource allocation techniques, such as bitrate-fairness or client-based adaptation algorithms, do not translate in overall user experience optimization. We create QoE-aware models, optimization algorithms, and software prototypes with the aim of understanding how these applications scale and how network resources can be managed to improve the QoE of users.

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Connected Shared Experiences

Multimedia systems support for social interactions between remote participants in small (multi-party and domestic video conferencing) and large (distributed theatre) mediated communication scenarios.

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Socially-Aware Multimedia Authoring

Facilitating ‘on demand’ temporal compilations based on the dynamic and time-variant constraints for the social sharing of personal media and storytelling.

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Modeling Time in Multimedia Documents

Defining languages for the coordinated presentation of temporal objects within container documents. This includes the modeling of user interaction and of metadata.

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Digital publishing

Many publishers use EPUB to bring digital content to their readers. EPUB is built from Web technologies, but publishing uses the Web for so much more, from everyday matters of communication and marketing to learning management systems and online journals. Nevertheless publications are still not first-class citizens of the Web. EPUB exists in silos, somewhat disconnected from the Web. Long texts make special demands on readers. We expect to read books and publications even while offline. We hope to share publications, save them, keep them. We expect a kind of permanence to publications, which we don’t typically expect of web sites. Publishing@W3C, a dedicated activity at the W3C, works to identify and solve these problems. We want publications on the Web to be more capable, more beautiful, more accessible, and easier.

As part of this activity, a separate Publishing Working Group has been set up at W3C to enable all publications — with all their specificities and traditions — to become first-class entities on the Web. The group aims at the development of Web Publications: a collection of (Web) resources, organized together through a manifest into a single logical work with a default reading order. The group concentrates on the development of a generic framework, with a particular attention to specific publishing areas, like audiobooks, Mangas, or scholarly publications.

Ivan Herman, from CWI, played a seminal role in the creation of Publishing@W3C a few years ago, and is now its technical leader in cooperation with core players of the Web as well as the publishing industries.

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Web technologies at W3C

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Web has become an essential part of modern society. The presence of researchers has always been seen as essential in the development of the Web and CWI is proud to have contributed actively to this evolution. CWI has been active in the development of HTML, CSS, SMIL, RDF, RDFa, XForms, OWL, R2RML, JSON-LD, SPARQL and many more. Beyond the participation in the relevant Working Groups, members of the DIS group have also acted as Working Group (co-)chairs, as well as activity leads for HTML and the Semantic Web within W3C. Current activities concentrate on:

  • the further development of the XForms standard, designing declarative techniques for representing functionality in network-based documents, and applying web-related methods to managing the Internet of Things;
  • further development of JSON-LD, creating bridges between the Semantic Web and Web Applications;
  • digital publishing and the Web (see separate page for further details).

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