VISNET II demonstrates the formation of a critical mass by putting together 12 leading organisations across Europe in the field of networked AV systems and home platforms. The consortium consists of 9 universities, 1 research institute, and 2 industrial Telecom companies. All members are known for their proven track record in audiovisual information and networking technologies and enjoy a national and international reputation in the field. VISNET II integrates a number of researchers who have made significant contributions to the advance of this field through standardisation activities, books and paper publications, patents and spin-off SMEs, as well as many other academic and industrial achievements. The table below shows the participants acronyms as well as their respective numbers used in this proposal.
VISNET has 12 partners in 7 countries and integrates over 100 researchers
University of Surrey, UK
Multimedia Communications Research Group, Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR)
VISNET II will be coordinated by CCSR, a part of an academic school at the University of Surrey which is one of the two only universities in the UK which have achieved a 5*A ranking (highest research ranking given to an academic university in the UK) in the last RAE (Research Assessment Exercise, 2001) in the Electronic Engineering discipline. CCSR is a large academic research centre with over 100 personnel divided into 3 main research groups, one of which is the multimedia communication research group.
The is largely involved in research activities covering speech, image and video compression algorithms, AV transmissions over networks, media adaptation for AV transmissions over heterogeneous networks, QoS control and security. The group also contributes extensively to the joint programme of activities of Visnet and makes use of its new high-end lab facilities that consists of a multi-disciplinary mixed reality media lab environment. The I-lab facilities along with the campus-wide wireless network testbed (WNT) are used in several activities related to the creation of 3D AV material as well as the performance evaluation of the proposed coding and transcoding algorithms under real network conditions.
The group has also experience in the set-up of spin-out SME companies. This experience will be vital for supporting the dissemination activities and durability plans beyond the budgeted period of the Commission.
Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz Institute, Germany
Image Processing Department
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft undertakes applied research of direct utility to private and public enterprise and of wide benefit to society. Its services are solicited by customers and contractual partners in industry, the service sector and public administration. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft maintains roughly 80 research units, including 58 Fraunhofer Institutes, at over 40 different locations throughout Germany. The Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (FhG/HHI) is located in Berlin. It is a leading research institute in the fields of Photonic Networks, Mobile Communications and Electronic Imaging for Multimedia. The Image Processing Department of this institute has a long experience in signal, image, and video processing. About 50 researchers in about 20 research projects are working in fields related to multimedia with applications ranging from very low bit rate video for mobile services up to high quality coding and processing of Digital Cinema, HDTV, 3DTV and Immersive Tele-Presence. It covers all fields from algorithm development to chip and systems design. FhG/HHI is especially renowned for its leading role in video coding standardisation within ISO/MPEG, ITU-T/VCEG and DVB. In addition it was member of several European research projects of the COST, EUREKA, RACE, ACTS, ESPRIT and IST programmes and currently it is member of the FP6 projects M-PIPE, Medianet, Worldscreen, VISNET and 3DTV. Within VISNET II, FhG/HHI is involved in the reconstruction of 3D objects from multiple views, rendering, and facial animation. For these activities, the know-how in 3D signal and image processing as well as is highly beneficial. Substantial know-how also exists in image analysis and synthesis, image-based rendering of virtual scenes, coding, streaming, which will be exploited in the VISNET II activities.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
The of EPFL will be involved in this network. The group is active in research and teaching in the field of visual information processing and coding, in many areas directly relevant to the objectives of the proposed network. TV group currently has 8 researchers, mostly pursuing Ph.D. theses, 4 post-doctoral researcher, and many undergraduate students. Undergraduate students are EPFL students or full-time visiting students from other universities, each staying for a period of around 6 months and involved in one of the research projects of the group. The research topics span through three highly interconnected disciplines of imaging, namely, compression, processing/interpretation, and security. Compression includes still image, video and 3D image coding. Processing/interpretation includes image and video analysis such as change detection, feature point extraction and tracking, object segmentation and tracking, compressed domain processing, and multi-modal man-machine interface for interactive communication. Security activity includes development of algorithms for copyright protection, conditional access and authentication of images, video as well as 3D models. The research activities are carried out in the framework of various projects coming from different sources. These sources include fundamental research grants from the Swiss authorities (FNRS- Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research), Academia-industry cooperation program (CTI), European Projects (IST), and direct industrial contracts. In the last years, the team has been involved in more than a dozen of such frameworks. Current research projects include, one FNRS project: interactive video systems; five European projects: Interface on man-machine interaction through audio-visual analysis, Art.Live on new media creation and experience, Certimark on evaluation of watermarking techniques and new algorithms; Perseo on universal multimedia access, and 2Kan on JPEG 2000 advanced networking. In addition to the above, the team is very active in standardization activities MPEG-4, MPEG-7 and MPEG-21, as well as JPEG 2000, where it contributes both at technical and leadership levels.
Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal
Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) is part of Technical University of Lisbon. The IST Image Group research interests cover the areas of visual information analysis, modeling, processing, manipulation, representation, coding and description. IST has developed, in the last years, intense research and development activities in image processing and coding, from still pictures to mobile videotelephony, digital TV, and advanced interactive systems. These activities, often developed in collaboration with international partners (universities, industries, telecommunication operators and research institutes), allowed the preparation of many M.Sc. and Ph.D. thesis, leading to a significant experience in multimedia processing and representation technologies. IST has been active in international research and standardisation groups, such as COST 211, ISO/JPEG, and mainly ISO/MPEG. IST was partner of RACE MAVT (which developed the first hardware demonstrator of a low bitrate mobile audiovisual terminal), ACTS MOMUSYS (which developed an MPEG-4 hardware demonstrator), and ACTS DICEMAN (which provided important inputs to MPEG-7 standardisation). IST was involved in launching the MPEG-4 and MPEG-7 standardisation efforts. IST participation in MPEG-4, focused in requirements and profiles specification, shape coding, error resilience, video rate control, 3D facial animation. IST was involved in several proposals that become the basis of MPEG-7 image and video description schemes. IST is also involved in the development of the MPEG-21 standard, especially in terms of usage environment description and scalable video coding. IST experts have chaired many MPEG Ad Hoc Groups and the Requirements Group. The interest of IST in the VISNET project follows its interest on networked AV technologies. More precisely, IST wil l bring to VISNET technical knowledge and experience to provide adequate solutions for: Video analysis, notably segmentation and evaluation of segmentation algorithms and results, video description for efficient retrieval, browsing, filtering and summarization, advanced video coding, notably targeting improved efficiency, scalability and error resilience, specially in view of improved mobile and Internet video communications. Due to its experience in standardisation bodies, IST is also determined to play a central role in the connection between MPEG and VISNET. IST has the necessary equipment and resources to fulfil with success the tasks it will be in charge in the context of the VISNET NoE.
Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain
Audio Visual Technologies Group
The members of the of the Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, UPC, have been working for more than 15 years in audio and video coding, image and video analysis and mobile communications. Members of the group have developed in particular a number of low-level tools for image segmentation, object tracking and motion estimation. More recently, the group has focussed on video indexing, face detection and recognition and metadata based-coding. This research activity has been the basis for collaborations within international projects and for contributions to MPEG-4. Members of the group have been responsible of the organization of the International Conference on Image Processing, ICIP, which was held in Barcelona in September 2003. With regards to European projects, a member of the group has been the prime contractor of the RACE II MORPHECO project (development of region-based codec based on mathematical morphology). Moreover, there has been a strong contribution to IST project VIDAS (video codec assisted by audio information), IST project HYPERMEDIA (broadcast service of MPEG-2 sequences supported by MPEG), and IST project MASCOT "Metadata for Advanced Scalable Video Coding Tools". The experience and technical inputs provided in these projects, along with many related publications constitute a good background for our work in VISNET regarding new paradigms in video coding using Wyner-Ziv approaches, the use of metadata information to improve coding, and the fusion of multimodal information for face detection and recognition.
Thales Research and Technology, UK
Network Systems Group
Thales Research & Technology (UK) [TRT (UK)] is the UK arm of the Thales corporate research centre and provides close support to the various Thales operating companies. Thales designs, develops and implements advanced electronic solutions, which meet the communications, information and security of people in countries throughout the world. Its activities cover three major markets: Information Technology and Services, Aerospace and Defence. Thales has global revenues of €8.6b and employs 65,000 people, 12,000 of whom are employed in the UK. TRT (UK) employs approximately 120 staff of which some 80% are science, maths or engineering graduates. The activities within TRT(UK) are subdivided into 3 main areas; Navigation, Sensors & Signal Processing and Network Systems. The Network Systems Group specialises in technologies associated with modern communication networks, security and vision processing. The group has a network test bed facility, which can be used to generate the various network performance scenarios, and security architectures that will be needed for VISNET. Members of the Network Systems Group are also active participants in the UK’s Mobile Virtual Centre of Excellence (VCE), which sponsors university research into mobile radio systems, networks & security beyond 3G. Apart from internally funded programmes, members of the Networks Systems Group have, within the last 12 months, been working on the following domestic and European projects relevant to the activities embraced by VISNET proposal:
- PRO-NET (UK-LINK), IP based transport of real-time audio & video.
- SIBIS (UK-LINK), Secure content delivery
- TEQUILA (IST), Traffic engineering for QoS in the Internet
- ADVISOR (IST), Annotated digital video for intelligent surveillance & optimised retrieval
- MESCAL (IST), Interdomain QoS across the Internet
TRT(UK) will bring to VISNET expertise to the Joint Programme of Activity in the following areas: Networking, specifically for QoS in IP networks, security, specifically in security architectures and PKI, Image Processing, specifically in automating camera calibration systems and 3D-secene understanding. In addition to providing support for Thales business objectives, Thales Research & Technology (UK) offers a wide range of consultancy and development services to European Government Agencies and to industry throughout the world, examples include EC, NATO, ESA, INMARSAT, DERA, DTI, Aerospatiale, Alcatel, GMV and others. Since 1983, innovative products have resulted in Thales companies being awarded nine Queen’s Awards for Technological Achievement. For many of these products Thales Research & Technology (UK) has provided the key technology that has led to market success.
Technical University Berlin, Germany
TUB is one of the largest technical universities in Germany, home to excellent researchers in every area of science and technology. Two outstanding researchers head the communications department (Fachgebiet Nachrichtenuebertragung), Professors Peter Noll and Thomas Sikora. Whilst Prof. Noll is world renowned for his work in coding, compression and representation of audio signals and data, Prof. Sikora is equally famous for his contributions to video data compression and representation. Both have been heavily involved in numerous standardisation activities within e.g. ITU-T and ISO/IEC MPEG. Moreover, Prof. Sikora has been involved in several EU-FP5 projects. Currently, the communications department research covers many different topics connected to audiovisual communications. Segmentation, classification and interpretation of AV sensor data for use in immersive communications, security applications and others are carried out. Furthermore, automatic annotation and metadata generation schemes for AV data are being developed in combination with efficient search and data-mining schemes. Moreover, AV data compression and robust representation techniques are being investigated under numerous aspects such as lossless compression, transmission over hostile channels, joint source-channel coding. 18 researchers and PhD students work on these topics and are supported by 4 secretarial and technical staff.
Telecom Italia Lab
The Telecom Italia Group is a major Italian enterprise and a key European strategic ICT player. Driven by technological innovation and a commitment to service excellence, Group companies (spearheaded by Telecom Italia, TIM, Telecom Italia Media and Finsiel) operate in fixed-line and mobile telecommunications, Internet & Media, Information Technologies. Telecom Italia Lab is the R&D branch of the Telecom Italia Group. Centre of excellence since 1964 in networks and services, Telecom Italia Lab took part in the definition and consolidation of the GSM standard, the MPEG set of specifications, and optical transmission. Today it goes on creating innovation through direct experience in the planning of fixed and mobile access networks, supporting the evolution of the transport network, developing platforms and services, prototyping next generation terminals. Taking part in major cooperative research work on an international level with universities, research centers and manufacturers, Telecom Italia Lab anticipates the future by planning advanced services in different fields from mobile to multimedia, assuring quality of service and security. As of 31/12/2003, the Telecom Italia Lab personnel amounted to 1142 employees, while the total expenditure for the year 2003 has been 140 M Euro. The Multimedia Department of Telecom Italia Lab has core expertise in the field of multimedia technology and applications. Its members participated in the last decades in more than 40 projects in the framework of various European programmes: ACTS, ESPRIT, EUREKA, EURESCOM, IST, RACE. The group provided contributions to many international standardization bodies, in particular in the field of audio visual coding (JPEG for still images, MPEG for moving pictures and associated audio), streaming (DAVIC, ISMA, IETF), content protection (OPIMA, SDMI, MPEG IPMP, OMA), and broadcasting (DVB). In particular, the group has been very active in MPEG since its foundation in January 1988, throughout the development of MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MPEG-7 and MPEG-21 specifications. In framework of this NOE proposal the Multimedia Department of Telecom Italia Lab will work in the field of content based search and retrieval systems (WP2), focussing on extraction from images and videos of low-level features that are able to carry semantically relevant information.
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
Multimedia Applications Group (DMAG) - Technology Department
The Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) is an only 12 years old University, but with already high reputation in lecturing and research. The UPF has 4 years old technical studies and research in IT, but with experienced researchers coming from other Universities or industry. The is a research group in the Technology Department, with members having more than 15 years experience in the field, including many European and national research projects (Multimediator, TRADE, MobiHealth, etc.). The main Research skills of DMAG include:
- Electronic Commerce: Multimedia content, Modelling, Architecture, Negotiation, Service provision (Workflow, ...), …
- Digital Rights Management (DRM): Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) information representation, Negotiation and contracting, Control, Protection, Business models, …
- Metadata and advanced web search: Interoperability, Security, MPEG, …
- Security in communications: Mobile applications, XML signature, …
- Semantic Web & Knowledge management
- Intelligent and Mobile Agents
The UPF role in the network will be related to its skills and knowledge in the area of metadata and security, that will be applied to new environments, such as real time distribution of audiovisual content. The experience in electronic commerce of multimedia content will be also key to contribute to the network objectives. Another reason for the UPF to participate in the network is the existence of previous collaboration with some of the partners. This NoE will be a perfect opportunity to increase and formalise these relationships and to establish new ones with other partners. Finally, the experience of some of the DMAG members in international standardisation will be offered to the Consortium to cooperate in existing and future work items in the context of networked audiovisual systems, not only in the MPEG standardisation area, but also in others at different levels (CEN, ISO/IEC, …).
Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione
With more than 39,000 engineering students enrolled, the Politecnico di Milano is the largest Technical University in Italy, as it graduates about 20% of the Italian engineers. The Dipartimento di Elettronica e Informazione (DEI) is among the largest ones of PdM, as it has about 160 professors. The main research activities of DEI are in the fields of telecommunications, multimedia signal processing, computer science, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. The Image and Sound Processing Group of DEI-PdM, involved in the VISNET proposal, has a long-standing experience in the fields of image analysis, computer vision, audio-video processing, multimedia coding and compression. In particular, ISPG's expertise concerns geometric 3D reconstruction from multiple images acquired with calibrated and uncalibrated systems; motion analysis from image sequences; video coding (MPEG4, H264, etc.); sound synthesis based on physical modelling; fast geometry-based algorithms for sound spatialization, video analysis for tele-surveillance applications. ISPG-PdM is currently involved or has been involved in a number of national or international projects. In particular, among the EC-sponsored project involvements that are close in spirit to this proposal, it is worth mentioning:
- IST-2000-33059, “ALMA”, ALgorithms for the Modelling of Acoustic interactions (project coordinator)
- IST-2000-28436, “ORIGAMI” - A new paradigm for high-quality mixing of real and virtual (project coordinator)
- IST-1999-11443, "OCCAMM" - Open Components for Controlled Access to Multimedia Material
- IST-1999-11288, "NexTV'' - New media consumption in Extended interactive TeleVision environment
- ESPRIT PROJECT No. 23191, "MPEG-4 PC" - MPEG-4 System Implementation and Tools for Personal Computers
- ACTS-AC092, "PANORAMA" - Package for New Operational Autostereoscopic Multiview Systems and Applications
The expertise and research interests of ISPG-PdM are perfectly matched with the areas covered by the VISNET Network of Excellence. The contribution that ISPG will give to the VISNET Consortium is in, particular, in the areas of sound generation and rendering, scalable video coding based on spatio-temporal wavelets and face detection and recognition. In all such areas, ISPG-PdM has already played an active role within several EC projects, and it foresees a tremendous potential benefit from the cooperation of the other partners of this Network of Excellence. Such benefit will be in terms of shared knowledge, tool development and exchange, joint software library development, etc.
Warsaw University of Technology, Poland
Faculty of Electronics and Information Technology
Warsaw University of Technology is the largest technical university in Poland, top ranked for teaching and research in almost every field of technology. Faculty of Electronics and Information Technology, the largest faculty of Warsaw University of Technology, carry on educational, scientific and research activities covering almost the whole spectrum of relevant fields - from microelectronics and optoelectronics, biomedical engineering, through instrumentation, measurement, control and robotics, to computer engineering and networks, multimedia techniques and telecommunication. The university is represented in VISNET by Multimedia Group (IPW) headed by Professor Skarbek known for his contributions in the fields of image compression, analysis, indexing, and recognition. He is author of more than 100 scientific papers, three monographs, and chapters in Springer books. Significant part of his works had been developed while his stay abroad, in Japan and England. He chaired the 9-th international conference on Computer Analysis and Patterns CAIP’2003 and is the member of several conference and journal scientific boards. His group actively contributes to MPEG-7 visual subgroup for which it received special thanks in resolutions of Pattaya and Klagenfurt meetings in 2002. IPW group took part in many successful research projects for instance: CRIT2 – EU project on compression of medical images; multimedia monitoring and surveillance; multimedia home platform; H26L decoder. Beside Professor Skarbek, two Associate Professors, one Assistant Professor, and four doctoral level students will take part in integration projects of the VISNET consortium. IPW will coordinate WP1 on content creation and actively contribute to WP2 and WP4. Similarly to all VISNET partners, IPW will also make a contribution to the integration activities of WP0 and the dissemination activities of WP6.
Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores do Porto, Portugal
INESC Porto - Instituto de Engenharia de Sistemas e Computadores do Porto is a private, non-profit distributing association, whose partners are INESC, the University of Porto and its School of Engineering. INESC Porto acts as an interface between the academic world and the Information Technology and Electronics sector, carrying out scientific research and development as well as technology transfer and advanced professional training. The activities of INESC Porto are carried out by five R&D Units (Telecommunications and Multimedia, Optoelectronics and Electronic Systems, Power Systems, Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Information and Communication Systems), under contract with industry and services and in research projects funded by National Agencies and EC R&D programmes.
The Telecommunications and Multimedia Unit is composed of about 60 researchers (20 PhDs and 18 MScs) and has a large experience of working cooperatively in R&D projects both at national and international level. Over the past 15 years its members actively participated in various projects in the framework of EC programmes, in particular ESPRIT, RACE, EUREKA, ACTS and IST and have been involved in standardisation groups such as the IETF, ITU-T and MPEG. Important contributions have been given to many of the specifications already produced by MPEG or currently under development, such as MPEG-7 and MPEG-21.
The areas of expertise relevant to VISNET include signal processing (audio and video coding and transmission), distributed systems and multimedia applications, digital television systems, content and resource management, communication networks and services. Important results have been achieved in past European projects (ATLANTIC, SCALAR, G-FORS and ARROWS), and in recently finished or still on-going IST projects (CONTESSA, METAVISION, ASSET and NUGGETS). CONTESSA (IST-2000-28567) has used distributed technologies and MPEG-21 concepts to allow the access to remote and heterogeneous repositories of multimedia content promoting interoperability among distinct data models. In G-FORS (IST-1999-11238), INESC Porto was one of the partners responsible for the development of the MXF (Media eXchange Format) specification, which is an open format standardised by the SMPTE to transfer multimedia content and metadata in an integrated manner. INESC Porto also participated in MOUMIR (MOdels for Unified Multimedia Information Retrieval), a Research Training Network, and led the work in database interface and contributed to the work in video analysis and MPEG-7 descriptions. Also relevant were the results achieved in ORBIT (Object Re-configurable Broadcast using IT), a project funded by the BBC to develop a pilot demonstrator that integrated all the equipment of a digital TV production chain, using open, low cost IT systems and networks and a distributed middleware platform; the basic concept had been developed and proved in ATLANTIC (AC078).