Taming the Terabyte
Circled by computers of many different varieties in Amir's laboratory, the group recently gave a demonstration of such "multicasting." Graduate student David Shaw, who attended film school before Hopkins, taps a few keys at one computer. A video of Amir's son toddling through Yellowstone Park immediately appears on two of the screens. In a similar fashion, the researchers multicast a lamenting song from the musical Hair, a block of text for a chat group, and a real-time video of themselves. If they wanted, they could also simultaneously transmit the same video, audio, or text data to "40 different computers at once" in many different locations, says Amir. Through multicasting, editors can simultaneously work on the same document, conference speakers can reach participants in far-flung parts of the world. Hopkins alumni could even hold a long-distance reunion.
Amir's group is among the first to transmit multimedia to several
different machines at the same time. If the network could handle
more data, as vBNS promises to do, Amir could do more. For
example, he could multicast a real-time movie that is shot using
two cameras, rather than limit himself to a single camera, as he
must do now. "Give us the pipe," says Amir. "We can use it. VBNS
is the pipe."
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