Academic Technology Center
Teaching with Technology Collaboratory

WPI Access Grid

January 22, 2007

What is the Access Grid?

The Access GridTM is an ensemble of resources including multimedia large-format displays, presentation and interactive environments, and interfaces to Grid middleware and to visualization environments.

The Access GridTM facilitates group-to-group interactions within the global community. Unlike traditional video or desktop conferencing, which focuses on one or two people at a site, the Access GridTM is designed for small group (two to ten people at a site) meetings between geographically disperse locations.

Visit the Access Grid Homepage for more information.

The WPI Access Grid

The George H. and Sybil F. Fuller Foundation Access GridTM Facility, located on the ground floor of Morgan Hall, houses both the WPI Access GridTM node and a multipurpose room which offers the WPI Community a triple projection multimedia room for meetings, presentations, demonstrations, and lectures. The WPI Access GridTM is one of six in New England and one of 159 worldwide.

The Access Grid Technology

While the Access Grid involves creating state of the art collaboration technology, whenever possible it leverages existing standards based hardware and software.

All video and audio handling is done with commodity hardware and software. On the video side, any video camera and video capture card that works under Windows or Linux will work. Video streams are handled using the Vic application. The WPI node uses four Sony PTZ cameras and four standard BT878 video cards. The display is accomplished by three large rear projection displays operating at 1024x768 driven by multiple video cards in a dedicated computer.

Audio is provided to a standard Soundblaster sound card by a pair of Gentner XAP800 audio conferencing units and a TH2 telephony bridge module. The Rat application handles playing and transmitting the streams. In addition, all audio and video is routed through an AV switcher, providing enormous flexibility, including the ability to route external signals, such as projectors, laptops, and the campus TV studio in and out of the room.

On the network side, the Access Grid relies heavily on multicast networking. Multicast enables a stream to be sent to a specified set of remote sites without having to duplicate each packet for each destination. Instead, the network at each intermediate step will create multiple copies of the stream if and only if it is actually required. This keeps the bandwidth requirements of a given session from increasing at an exponential rate as more participants are added, and allows many sites to participate at the same time.

Reserving the Access Grid Facility for an Event

Fill in the Access Grid Facility Reservation Request form to request the facility for an event.

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Last modified: Mar 29, 2007, 10:46 EDT
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