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Most iCampus Projects Successful

LAMP Project Still Offline, Searching for Music that can be Broadcasted

By Ray C. He


The five 2003 MIT-Microsoft iCampus partnership projects, each given $30,000 of support, concluded its year of funding with positive results.

Four out of the five projects have or soon will become available to the public. The Library Access to Music Project was temporarily useable, but was suspended due to technical difficulties.

Projects report success

The iLabNotebook project to replace notebooks with PC tablets in a laboratory working with bioinstrumentation has attracted industry interest, according to Patrick A. Anquetil G, who proposed iLabNoteBook.

Cyclescore, which provides a game-like interface on exercise bikes, is ready for an April launch in the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center after undergoing tests and interface design in the Media Lab, said principle investigator Joseph Heitzeberg G.

The iQuarium team installed their display with a completed program code, although their final product did not correspond with all of their initial goals as outlined in the Jan. 15, 2003 issue of The Tech [“Interactive Workout, Aquarium Funded by iCampus”].

The Distributed Collaboration System for the Mars Gravity Biosatellite project found software that allowed the team members to communicate, have a shared document system, and transfer files among MIT, the University of Washington, and the University of Queensland in Australia, said Paul D. Wooster ’03, program manager of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite program.

LAMP continues to face difficulty in finding a legal source for its music files following its precautionary shutdown after the discovery that its music supplier, Loudeye, did not actually have the right to sell them the music they provided.

Tablet PCs replace real notebooks

The idea of iLabNotebook came from a need to have easily accessible notes, information that can be shared among many researchers, and better data acquisition and management, Anquetil said.

“We started about March of 2003 and it’s been running for a year now,” he said.

The six tablet PCs rotated among several researchers. “We had about 12 people who used it within nine months,” he said. “That included not only PhD students, but post-docs, [Director of the BioInstrumentation Laboratory] Ian Hunter, undergraduates, as well as UROPs,” he said.

“It’s a neat and efficient way to document experiments,” he said.

“We just connect the tablet PCs to our instruments and import all this data directly into the laboratory notebook, which saves time, hassle, and you have it right there,” he said.

“One time, a faculty member we wanted to collaborate with was in Japan,” he said. “Instead of panicking and getting all my papers together, I just sent him my entire notebook.”

Some researchers did not like the iLabNotebook because of low resolutions on the desktop and short battery lives. “You would try to write something on the page and you found that the resolution was so poor that you couldn’t get detail,” he said.

The team plans to continue using their iLabNotebooks and “share our resource with the community,” he said. “I’ve had people in the industry contact me about it,” he said.

Games added to exercise bikes

The mating of stationary bicycle and video game technologies is “getting ready to deploy at the Zesiger Gym,” said Doron Harlev G. “Right now, we have it set up in the Media Lab and we’re in the final stages of fine-tuning it.”

The team is currently discussing the exact details of the launch, including the final date, with the athletic department, which the team has “been working closely with, virtually from day one,” Harlev said. “They’ve been very, very supportive.”

“We’re planning on getting at least two bikes,” Heitzeberg said.

The system will allow for user input in future improvements to the system. “It gives them immediate feedback about how effective their workout was and it’ll give us immediate feedback as to how they thought the game experience was,” Heitzeberg said.

The athletic department will take over project maintenance after the launch. “We’re working with [Z-Center General Manager Tim Moore] to make sure the people in the gym are trained to use it,” Heitzenberg said.

Fish vortices appear in Building 5

iQuarium project team members Audrey M. Roy ’05, Katheryn S. Wasserman ’04, and Aaron M. Sokoloski ’05 installed their display kiosk in Building 5’s Hart Nautical Gallery in a ceremony on Feb. 6 along with iCampus project managers Paul Oka and Rebecca G. Bisbee.

iQuarium teaches hydrodynamics by displaying the vortices created in moving water by swimming fish. The simulation displays data gathered in previous Course XIII projects.

The finished project features a trackball that can be used to rotate around the display, buttons to control zoom, information displays, and choose between two kinds of fish, the Blue Fin Tuna or the Giant Danube.

The kiosk comprises a large flat-panel plasma display, a Web camera to detect the presence of a person, a trackball and button, a computer for generating the graphics, and another computer for performing calculations, Sokoloski said. Most of the display came together within two weeks of the launch, he said.

The project was originally “intended for the visitors and students passing through the Infinite Corridor,” said the article.

The project was relocated to the Hart Gallery, which is a part of the MIT Museum located in Course XIII’s departmental space, because of architectural issues and context, according to Kurt C. Hasselbalch, curator of the Hart Nautical Gallery.

“We decided to have our iQuarium here instead of the corridor because we had no idea how to mount things in a perfectly secure way,” Roy said.

The source code for iQuarium and other iCampus projects is available to the public as a precondition for iCampus funding from Microsoft, Heitzeberg said.

DCS helps communication

The DCS component of the Mars Gravity Project was completed, Wooster said.

The project, originally proposed by James K. Whiting G, Audrey M. Schaffer ’05, and Ryan A. Damico ‘05, explored various file management and real-time communication solutions.

Most of the components are now in place. “We have tools now that make it much easier to transfer files, communicate, and cooperate in real time,” he said.

“We’ve been using more audio conferencing with Australia to decrease the cost of telephone [calls],” Wooster said. “One of the big features is the Microsoft Portal software, which is a document management system,” he said. “It allows us to post and edit documents through a web interface. It works directly with Microsoft Windows.”

“In terms of real time communications, what we started using is Microsoft Office Live,” Wooster said. “It allows whiteboarding and application sharing, which is very useful when you’re drawing a diagram or something and you want someone to be able to see what you’re doing.”

LAMP needs source of music

LAMP has been struggling to find a supplier to provide music so it can resume its service.

At this point, it is not clear when the service can resume, Mandel said.

“We have the rights to broadcast the music” from the music companies, he said, but have not been able to purchase music that can be legally broadcasted.

Since LAMP is a two-year iCampus project, it has a total of $60,000 of funding. Mandel said that they will retain this funding with no deadline for completion.

“We spent about $10,000 on cable broadcast equipment, but we didn’t spend any on music,” Mandel said.