The Systems Research Group

Networks and Operating Systems

Part II/Diploma Project Suggestions, 1998-1999

Multimedia Related Projects

Stand-alone Video Conference Station (Shark)

Currently, along with the infamous Trojan Room Coffee Pot, Computer Lab seminars are broadcast on the Lab MBONE setup, allowing those with this capability to watch the conference without having to be in the Babbage Lecture theatre. The SRG has a number of DEC ``Sharks'', set-top boxes, based around the StrongARM chip. They have builtin audio, ethernet and TV output facilities, and are largely sitting around idle. It would be nice if these boxes could be utilized to take the MBONE video and audio streams from the network and display it on a TV (or a local monitor, at the users' discretion).

This could involve porting various of the MBONE tools (such as VIC and VAT) to run directly on the Shark's hardware, decoding data from the network, and driving the TV output correctly. It might turn out to be easier to run Nemesis on the Sharks (90% complete) and then port vic and vat to Nemesis.

With a suitable cheap video camera interface (DEC SRC have these -- we don't at the moment), they could be used as video conferencing terminals.

Live Video Texture Mapper

Last year, there was an excellent student project to develop a demonstration `virtual advertising billboard'. The program, known as Scamper (Scanner-Mapper), was able to detect and locate a blue rectangular object in a live video image, and texture map another video image over the top of it. The program tried to `guess' the location of the blue billboard even if it was partly obscured, and then distort the `advert' onto the billboard taking perspective into account.

Scamper did a pretty reasonable job, but there's loads more that could be done to improve it. For instance, the program could carry forward knowledge between frames in the input video stream, enabling it to optimise its search for the billboard, and also to improve its estimate of the location of the billboard's corners. Also, rather than using a plain blue billboard, perhaps the accuracy of the location algorithm could be improved by using a patterned target e.g. a blue and yellow chequer board.

This project has loads of potential for developing some nice algorithms, and also looks really cool. Come along to the Atlas room for a demo of the current version... 

Video Conferencing Tools for Nemesis

The MBONE tools (vic and vat) enable users to view and participate in multi-party video conferences both locally and world-wide. These tools currently run on Unix style operating systems, but are hampered by the fact that the OS doesn't provide any Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees, so the video and audio can break-up if the machine is also being used for other tasks.

The Nemesis operating system has been designed specifically to enable QoS guarantees to be made to applications. The aim of this project is to port part of the MBONE tool set to Nemesis, but to re-write it such that it is able to exploit the QoS guarantees Nemesis provides. The tools should be made resource-adaptive: capable of trading-off the fidelity of their output depending on how much resource the OS says will be available to them.

This project is reasonable tricky, and requires some nice computer science to write the adaptive audio/video algorithms. It will look really cool and be fun to do though... 

Project enquiries to:

Austin Donnelly, Cambridge Computer Laboratory,
Stephen Early, Cambridge Computer Laboratory,
Dickon Reed, Cambridge Computer Laboratory,

HTML gripes to:

Richard Mortier, Cambridge Computer Laboratory,

Last updated: $Date: 1998/06/02 11:30:09 $