Stanford and York showcase interactive technology

Have you walked through Vari Hall Rotunda today or yesterday? If you have, you might have caught your image projected on a big screen hanging on the east wall. A Web camera has been transmitting live images of pedestrians walking through the Rotunda to the University of Indianapolis where laptops are projecting them onto a giant video wall — along with live images from 79 other locations around the world.

It’s all part of a unique videoconferencing demonstration hosted by Stanford University in California to showcase new broadband technology designed for interactive research and learning. The demonstration is taking place during the fall meeting of Internet2, a consortium of 202 universities — including Stanford — that develops advanced Internet network applications and technologies.

Stanford invited York, one of only two Canadian universities to participate in the video wall demonstration, because York is also involved in developing broadband technology. York is the leader in the Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning (ABEL) project, which is using broadband technology to create an interactive learning community for teachers and faculty across Canada.

“This demonstration shows that it is possible to simultaneously broadcast several live video streams from all over the world,” says Stan Shapson, vice-president research & innovation. “This initiative is part of an experimental videoconferencing system designed for interactive research and learning where York University is a leader. This is a great opportunity to showcase York’s broadband technology and involve the York community in a fun and interesting way.”

You can view the giant video wall at It is created using five Pentium 4 laptops – running plug-and-play video streaming software – each connected to a portable projector.

Typical commercial videoconferencing systems can display only four video streams at one time. Internet2 videoconferencing service, which can simulcast 80 at one time, is high quality and significantly cheaper.

Two years ago, the computer sciences department at Stanford developed a 30-stream video wall. The multi-stream video walls use VSee, a software system designed to transform wireless laptops into secure high-end videoconferencing systems.

York’s ABEL project is funded through the CANARIE Learning Program – Canada’s not-for-profit advanced Internet development organization.