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Net Pioneer Wants New Internet



Net Pioneer Wants New Internet

David Clark, who led the development of the internet in the 1970s, is working with the National Science Foundation on a plan for a whole new infrastructure to replace today's global network.

Clark, who served as chief protocol architect for the government's internet development initiative in the 1980s, wants researchers to re-imagine the infrastructure that connects computer users around the world.

A new architecture could allow for ubiquitous embedded wireless communications devices and sensors. It could also provide for more secure and convenient forms of commerce. A super-high-speed internet could even allow people a world apart to collaborate inside elaborate 3-D virtual arenas, a process called tele-immersion.

Clark, in the abstract that got him the grant, asks the question, "Can the research community devise a fresh, new design for an internet -- a design that takes into account both the wisdom in the original design and what has been learned since, a design that takes into account the requirements the network now faces and those we can predict in the future -- and demonstrate a network with sufficient appeal and merit that we might persuade the world to move to it?"

It is so easy to forget that we are in a continuum of progress. We look at the world with cell phones, and cable TV and desktop computers and think 'this is the world'. And that is partly true. But it is only the world as it is today and it will not be the world as we will know it in the years to come. We can know that with certainty. The question then is, what forms will communications technologies like the internet and cell phones take in the near future? Is tele-immersion really something that's going to happen? Let's think for a second:
Tele-Immersion will enable users in different locations to collaborate in a shared, simulated environment as if they were in the same physical room. It's the ultimate synthesis of networking and media technologies to enhance collaborative environments. In the tele-immersive environment, computers recognize the presence and movements of individuals and objects, track those images, and then permit them to be projected in realistic, multiple, geographically distributed immersive environments where individuals can interact with each other and with computer generated models.

Sure sounds like that would have a lot of value. Could even transform the worlds of business, communications and entertainment at the same time. A lot of time and energy is being spent on the networks and the software to handle all this. The computers will be able to keep up -- it is a matter of software design and network resource availability. If you ask me, I'd say it's going to happen. And it's just one more reason why Microvision will see explosive growth over the next five years.

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