All Depend on Information and Communications Technologies
Global connectivity and the explosive growth in Internet applications such as the World Wide Web demonstrate the tremendous increase in bandwidth that the coming world of multimedia interactive applications will require from future networks. This requires new manageable network architectures that are designed to evolve smoothly from today's networks.
Multimedia communications is the field referring to the representation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of machine-processed information expressed in multiple media, such as text, voice, graphics, images, audio and video. With the advent of high-capacity storage devices, powerful and yet economical computer workstations and high-speed integrated services digital networks a variety of multimedia communications services are becoming not only technically but also economically feasible. Applications in medicine, education, travel, real estate, banking, insurance, administration and publishing -advertising are emerging at a fast pace. These applications are characterized by large multimedia documents that have to be communicated with very short delays. Computer-controlled co-operative work, whereby a group of users can jointly view, create, edit, and discuss multimedia documents has characterized many transactions since the year 2000.
The Center for Information and Communications Technology Research (CICTR) at the Pennsylvania State University started its operations in 1997. The focus of the on-going work at CICTR is generating solutions for the current and future technical challenges in those areas of technologies, systems, and network architectures that enable the vision of the information age.
A new century seems to bring with it dramatic changes, and the current one is no different. The biggest technological change -- and perhaps resulting social change the convergence of computers and communications. We're already getting a taste of this future as more and more consumers plug in multimedia PCs and go on line to surf the Internet. Yet the most compelling story of how multimedia will transform our world is the one still being written: the future of multimedia communication and the birth of a new enterprise multimedia network.
The next few years will mark the start of a multimedia age, freeing people from industrial age constraints of time and place and from limits on the form of information they send and receive.
People will communicate in the media high definition -- video, voice, data, or any combination -- that best expresses their needs, and will send their messages vaulting over time zones to people who can transform the contents to meet their needs.
Workers will use multimedia communications to access nearly unlimited information - whether that's a rare text in a distant library, a bar chart in a co-worker's PC or the sound advice of a colleague on a video call.
The information-gathering efficiencies and "like being there" quality of multimedia communications will help restructure basic institutions. Our homes will be wired and equipped for "Tele-work", "distance learning" and an almost unimaginable range of entertainment options. People will work for "virtual corporations" made up of "virtual workgroups" including consultants, suppliers and customers who operate globally using "virtual travel" for most face-to-face meetings. ---- In sum, we will become a "real virtual society."