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Abstract -- Recent Activities in the MICE Conferencing Project Network and Application Engineering Track
N1: Multicasting

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Recent Activities in the MICE Conferencing Project

Kirstein, Peter ( P.Kirstein@cs.ucl.ac.uk)
Clayman, Stuart ( S.Clayman@cs.ucl.ac.uk)
Handley, Mark ( M.Handley@cs.ucl.ac.uk)
Sasse, Angela ( A.Sasse@cs.ucl.ac.uk)


The MICE project is piloting multimedia conferencing in Europe, with links to the US; by this we mean packetised video, audio and shared workspace. It has been described in previous INET conferences. Here we will discuss the recent developments in several areas:

1. Different Networks: - All usage of MICE has been over the Internet; where by this we mean over IP; however that has taken many forms. The conventional 2 Mbps packet-switched research networks have become increasingly congested; for this reason, we have been experimenting with providing resource allocation to ease congestion at gateways. While the research networks have become increasingly higher speed and more prevalent, at least in some European countries, narrow-band ISDN access remains important for industry; we have started providing National, and sometimes international, multi-channel ISDN access via ISDN relays. Finally, both Nationally and across Europe higher speed access is starting to become available via SMDS and ATM. The MICE technology has moved to those networks - though still only on an experimental basis. Our experimental results and future intentions in each of the above will be described.

2. Multimedia Server - We have started including a multimedia server (MMS) into the conferences; both the salient features of the design, and early results will be reported at the conference. The main objectives of the MMS are the following: To record multicast data from any of the conferees; To allow users to create their own edits of recorded material, and create their own playback; To supply a large repository accessible to any user for recording and/or playback during or after a conference; To allow synchronisation between streams to be achieved To use a large (180 GB) magneto-optical jukebox in real time.

3. Security - We have started introducing confidentiality into the conferences; our methods of key management and distribution will be described: The video, audio and shared work-space can be DES-encrypted; The Initiation Vector and Encryption Key can be sent by MIME/PEM or stored (encrypted) in SD; the decryption key for the PEM or SD message is the Public Key of the recipient - either sent in a previous PEM message or held in a Directory.

4. Tool Improvements - We have recognised that certain tools need improvement. Changes have been, or are being, made to the audio, video and shared workspace tools. Details of the changes will be presented.

5. New Applications - Some new applications have been attempted - medical operations and interactive art; the impact of these applications on the facilities needed will be considered:

The seminar series started in 1993 has been continued. Successful seminars has required a considerable discipline, and some extra facilities. These will be described; We introduced two medical operations in real time (one each from Sweden and the US) into a recent medical workshop in London. The lessons to be learnt from that experience will be described. We have used the technology in an interactive art application. We conclude from that activity that some quite different shared work-space and storage capabilities are needed.

National Support Centres - We have now introduced a network of MICE Support Centres in Europe with the following functions (both national and international):

To distribute and support MICE software;
To provide MICE documentation via the WWW centres;
To liaise with the MICE tool developers;
To support user groups.
The support for this activity comes both from European Commission funds and from national sources.