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Sirti Bestows Award of Honor
October 21, 2010. Billie Moreland, PhD, of Billie Moreland and Associates and Steve Simmons, PhD, E...

Triangle %u201CGraduates%u201D at Sweet Sixteen
The Idea (1994)
In June 1994, while on a layover in the San Francisco airport, Dr. Steve Simmons cam...

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11/30/2002 - Avista VP Net to Link Triangle with Universities

After months of preparations, Avista revealed its Virtual Possibilities Network (VP Net) at a press conference on November 26. Billed as “an economic development tool for the Inland Northwest to facilitate the creation of, and access to, a durable high-speed communications network,” the VP Net is essentially an Avista Corp. gift of dark fiber for an ‘unlimited’ bandwidth Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). The MAN is to eventually connect all of the universities and colleges in the Inland Northwest. Currently over 200 miles of dark fiber reaches ten of the fourteen college and university locations participating in the VP Net program. The VP Net has its governance in place --- including a technical standards committee to make sure all participants’ equipment will talk to each other.

Avista’s contribution is two strands of dark fiber for a renewable five-year period, and the creation, organization, and launch of the VP Net governance structure. The governance structure is made up from the member universities, but Avista is participating in an exofficio role. Columbia Fiber Solutions, a VP Net project partner, is donating additional fiber for last mile connectivity.

VP Net will see first light in December. The initial phase will be between SIRTI and Whitworth. This connection will use gigabit Ethernet to carry the information, providing one gigabit of bandwidth. Voice, video, and data transmission will be tested. The initial hookup will be minimal --- a low cost pilot phase--- and will be upgraded in future phases by additional equipment, destinations and bandwidth.

Many new, different, and unique benefits are available with dedicated gigabit bandwidth. For example, very rich and complete human interactions are possible at a distance. These interactions are almost like being face-to-face, and include being able to read body language and facial expressions. Also, complicated whiteboard presentations, complex graphics, and elaborate computer displays can be transmitted in real time. This enables ‘same room’ effects for collaboration that is highly attractive. One application is to make distance teaching seem natural and transparent.

A similar but lower bandwidth example of real time distance teaching is the UCLA/Kyoto University ‘TIDE’ project. This 1999 bleeding edge trans-Pacific teaching environment has audio and video performance limitations, few video projections to see, and no total immersion. Although one can see some sleeping students in the other classroom, it is not possible to see if the others are interested or bored. However, TIDE uses only 2 MB of bandwidth versus the 500 MB estimated for each pair of interacting Inland Northwest Digital University (INDU) classrooms.

Because of this massive bandwidth, the planned INDU classrooms will be able to utilize “Fiber Optic Linked Audio Visual” (FOLAV) technology. FOLAV classrooms will be completely surrounded by large 1-megapixel video projection zones, showing students, teachers, computer displays, whiteboards, and graphics. Intelligent Life Forms (ILF) has a 3-D animated version of the planned FOLAV classroom at: http://www.seespotstream.com/avista/classroom.wmv

Billie Moreland
 
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