Report Number: CSL-TR-99-781
Institution: Stanford University, Computer Systems Laboratory
Title: An Architecture for Distributed, Interactive, Multi-Stream, Multi-Participant
Author: Schmidt, Brian K.
Date: April 1999
Abstract: Today's computer users are becoming increasingly sophisticated, demanding richer and fuller machine interfaces. This is evidenced by the fact that viewing and manipulating a single stream of full-size video along with its associated audio stream is becoming commonplace. However, multiple media streams will become a necessity to meet the increasing demands of future applications. An example which requires multiple media streams is an application that supports multi-viewpoint audio and video, which allows users to observe a remote scene from many different perspectives so that a sense of immersion is experienced. Although desktop audio and video open many exciting possibilities, their use in a computer environment only becomes interesting when computational resources are expended to manipulate them in an interactive manner. We feel that user interaction will also become increasingly complex. In addition, future applications will make significant demands on the network in terms of bandwidth, quality of service guarantee, latency, and connection management. Based on these trends we feel that an architecture designed to support future multimedia applications must provide support for several key features. The need for numerous media streams is clearly the next step forward in terms of creating a richer environment. Support for non-trivial, fine-grain interaction with the media data is another important requirement, and distributing the system across a network is imperative so that multiple participants can become involved. Finally, as a side effect of the network and multi-participant requirements, integral support for and use of multicast will be a prime architectural component. The goal of our work is to design and implement a complete system architecture capable of supporting applications with these requirements.