April 23, 2009
Three dozen kids ranging from 8 to 13 years old sit intently on chairs and the floor in the IT Collaboratory room at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. They are quietly
watching a 3-D presentation on permafrost called "FrostBytes". The speaker is 3,000 miles away in Fairbanks, Alaska at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center. Standing between two walls and on a floor that have 3-D virtual reality images projected on them, he recognizes a child who has his hand raised and answers the questions from his distant viewer.
Over 180 kids are on campus as part of the Take Your Kids to Work Day activities organized by the Women's Center at RIT. They are taking advantage of the collaboration technologies being researched by the ICELab, a part of the Research Computing group. Using open source software from Argonne National Labs called the Access Grid, they can watch multiple video streams (about a dozen today) simultaneously as well as talk, and share paint and draw programs with a similar group of kids at the National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.
Some of the kids are playing with 'make your own avatar' program with help from colleagues at the University of Puerto Rico Medical School. A few of the external video streams are from Texas and Portugal.
The RIT Global Collaboration Grid is a multi-way, interactive, high-speed network-based system of technologies designed to connect the eight colleges of RIT in Rochester with its partner campuses in Kosovo, Croatia, Dubai, and the Dominican Republic, as well as partner institutions such as Rochester General Health Systems.
For more information visit http://rc.rit.edu/collab-tech.html or contact Gurcharan.Khanna@rit.edu.