Aussie technology ignites global collaboration

Australia enters leading global research network

A high-capacity network and an 18-square-metre LCD screen will allow Australian doctors, scientists and academia to share research and technology using locally developed technology.

A 96 million pixel screen, dubbed the OzIPortal, was developed by the University of Melbourne and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) as a realistic cinema for observation of complex surgery, underwater exploration using submersible robots, and the use of supercomputers and scientific equipment.

The $620,000 display is the largest of its kind in Australia and is comprised of 24x30-inch HD LCD screens - more than 50 times the resolution of the best commercial HD television - 104Gb of RAM and 13 Quadcore processors running the San Diego Supercomputer Centre Rocks cluster software.

A medical demonstration was held in Melbourne this week between the University of Melbourne and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) which co-created the project.

A surgeon in Australia could direct surgery in Antarctica; scientists in Japan could operate a robot and explore the Great Barrier Reef

Professor Iven Mareels, University of Melbourne dean of engineering.

The universities held a medical demonstration in Melbourne this week over a 1Gbps link routed through Australian and American research networks, including the Australia Academic Research Network (AARNet3), the Southern Cross Trans-Pacific Optical Research Testbed (SX TransPORT), Calit2, Pacific Wave and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC).

The project is the latest development for the Australia Academic Research Network (AARNet3) which provides a 30,000 pair kilometre 10Gbps local link to connect more than one million Australian researchers and university students.

AARNet3 has connected the world's foremost academia to lecture students from universities, TAFEs and colleges across Australia, and broke new ground in astronomy when it streamed a 3Gb feed of the Southern Hemisphere sky to scientists across Europe.

University of Melbourne dean of engineering Professor Iven Mareels said the technology allows complex procedures to be conducted that would normally be impossible under high latency or low resolution setups.

"The 'real-time' nature of the technology means people on opposite sides of the world can work together on projects in real-time," Mareels said.

"A surgeon in Australia could direct an emergency surgical intervention by operating a robot in Antarctica; scientists in Australia and Japan could share research tools such as the Synchrotron, or operate an underwater robot exploring the Great Barrier Reef - all from the comfort of an OptIPortal room."

According to Mareels, neurological scientists could use the technology to access MRIs, molecular physicists in Japan could access the famous CERN particle accelerator, and astronomers could use overseas telescope arrays to explore the universe. He said the technology can help research everything from the human genome to advancements in gaming and cinematography.

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