Advanced Multimedia Processing Lab -- Projects -- NetICE

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Project - NetICE (Networked Intelligent Collaborative Environment)



Team Member

Howard Wing Ho Leung

Aileen Chua

Eric Lee

Former Contributors:

Greg Bray

Khalid Goudeaux

Sooksan Panichpapiboon

Sy-Bor Wang

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To provide a system that will reproduce an actual conference setting, so that people can communicate from anywhere at any time and still feel that they are in the same environment without realizing the limitation of the physical network.


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When multiple participants are involved in video conferencing, current software places different participants in different windows. This arrangement makes it difficult for the participants to tell who is talking to whom, and there is no sense of immersion. By enhancing the capabilities of the network and adding intelligence to the end terminal, the quality of the audio-visual communication can be improved.  For this reason, we have been implementing a prototype that uses human-like characters, known as avatars, to represent the users vividly and places the avatars in the same immersive environment.

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            1. NetICE Server
NetICE Server is a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) that  is responsible for maintaining the 
                 state of the system and distributing the information to the NetICE Clients.  

            2. NetICE Client
NetICE Client renders the 3D visual and 3D audio environment on the user terminal to 
                  provide "immersive environment". 

            1. Virtual Conference Room
A virtual conference room with a door and windows to provide an immersive environment.
              A table can also be added to this room. 

(Move your mouse cursor on the picture to add the table)

            2. Stereoscopic Display
The user can navigate in the virtual conference room. The user's viewpoint will change according 
              to his position. This provides a 3D visual experience. Besides, the user can also turn his head or 
              zoom in/out by changing the position of the projection plane.

            3. Avatar with 3D Body Model
An avatar is a human-like character used to represent each user in the virtual conference room.
                 The avatar is animated to simulate vivid human behaviors.  

            4. Synthetic/Realistic Head Model
The user can select a synthetic head model or a realistic head model to represent himself/herself. 
                  In the current version of NetICE, facial expressions and lip-synchronization are allowed for the   
                  synthetic head model.  On the other hand, the realistic head model is not animated, but it gives    
                  other users better visual experience to treat the avatar as a real person. Click here to see an    
                  example of a realistic head model. 

            5. Director Camera
the user can select the viewpoint between 2 different positions: the avatar's own viewpoint, or the 
              viewpoint of a camera above the avatar's head.  This feature further facilitates navigation.

(Move your mouse cursor on the picture to switch the view using the director camera)

            1. Real-Time Audio
The user can use a microphone to transmit his/her own voice through the network to the other clients. 
              This enhances real-time conversation.

            2. Audio Mixing
When multiple users are speaking, their voices are mixed and then rendered to the listening client to 
              provide the user a sense of immersion.

            3. Stereoscopic And Directional Sound (3D Sound)
Head related transfer function (HRTF) is used to provide stereoscopic and directional sound.  
              The volume will be louder if the talking person is closer to the listener and vice versa. Besides,
the listener can feel the direction of the talking person.  If the speaker is on the left hand side,
              then the sound will be steered towards the left sound channel.

            1. Facial Expressions
The user is able to control  the avatar's six elementary facial expressions: joy, anger, surprise, 
                  sadness, fear, disgust.  These facial expressions are MPEG-4 compliant.

Joy Anger Surprise Sadness Fear Disgust

The user can use a microphone to transmit his/her own voice through the network to the other clients. 

         2. Hand Gesture
           The user can raise the avatar's hand before speaking in order to get the attention of other users.


         1. Lip-Synchronized Animated Faces With Audio
           The face is animated with lip movement synchronized with the audio

                   wpe4.jpg (19196 bytes)

         2. Hand Gesture With Speech
           The hand movements can be driven by the energy of the user's speech to enhance the speech

         1. Virtual Shared Whiteboard
The users can draw simultaneously on the shared whiteboard in the virtual environment.  The 
                user can also select a JPEG image to be displayed on the whiteboard and the same image will
             be shown on the other user's whiteboard.  


         2. Collaboration between Physical and Virtual Whiteboard
It is often difficult to draw or write using a mouse. Users may prefer working directly on a physical 
                 whiteboard. NetICE allows users to work naturally on a physical whiteboard with a wireless pen 
                such as MIMIO. On one side the user can draw and write easily on a physical whiteboard and on 
                the other side  users who do not have physical whiteboard can still collaborate using the virtual 

Physical Whiteboard with wireless pen Shared Virtual Whiteboard

         3. Sharing of 3D Objects
The user can drag-and-drop an 3D object specified by a VRML file onto the NetICE Client window. 
                The NetICE Client will send this 3D object to the NetICE Server which is then distributed to the 
             other NetICE Clients.  

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Video Clips

   [high-resolution] (18.1MB)

   [low-resolution] (3.4MB)

   [high-resolution] (37.7MB)

   [low-resolution] (14.1MB)

   [high-resolution] (28.2MB)

   [low-resolution] (9.0MB)

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Work in Progress

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Our work is used by...

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Any suggestions or comments are welcome. Please send them to Howard Leung

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