April 20, 1992
       For those of  us  who  are  fascinated  by  some  of  the REALIZABLE
       technologies as shown on Star Trek,  the  following  two  items  are
       paraphrased from COMPUTERWORLD, April 20, 1992.

       The first and  most  interesting  is  entitled  "THE   WALK-AND-WEAR
       OFFICE, Using a   multimedia  system  and  devices  that  track  and
       identify people, Olivetti Research  is  working  on  the intelligent
       office of the future." by Andy Hopper.  PP 99-101.

       The second is  from  TECH  TALK,  Page  25 of the same  issue.   The
       article is entitled   "PICTURE   THIS"   and   relates  to  a  video
       recognition system for graphic images.   It  also  ties in well with
       the Olivetti ACTIVE BADGE system.

       ComputerWorld is primarily for IS (information systems managers) but
       covers a wide  range  of  subjects relating to computer  technology.
       Current Subscription rates are $38.95 per year for a weekly paper.

       If you wish  to  subscribe,  their  address is COMPUTERWORLD, PO Box
       2044, Marion, Ohio 43306-4144.

                        Pandora and the Active Badge System

       The Olivetti Research Laboratory is  located  in Cambridge, England.
       They are currently  developing a most interesting multimedia  system
       called PANDORA in conjunction with devices known as ACTIVE BADGES.

       ACTIVE BADGES identify  and  track  people  within  a building.  The
       basic system monitors  the movement  of  people  and,  to  a  lesser
       extent, objects in the building.  The badge is currently the size of
       a typical office  security identification badge.   An  ACTIVE  BADGE
       contains an infrared  transmitter  that every 15 seconds transmits a
       48-bit word, which is the wearer's unique ID.

       The ID information  is held on a  central  database  residing  on  a
       server (controller for  a  network  of  connected workstations)  and
       includes items such   as   security  clearance,  preferred  computer
       interface and applications, right  or  left-handedness  and even how
       the user takes his coffee.

       Rooms, passageways and workstations are equipped with  sensors  with
       infrared receivers that monitor the presence of a badge.  These

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       sensors are tied  together  into  a  low-frequency network, which is
       connected to the server on the main PANDORA network.

       A central monitoring program on the server constantly updates a list
       of where badge wearers are or where they last came in contact with a
       sensor.  This information includes  what  telephone  or workstations
       they are closest  to.   Users  can  call  up  this   list  on  their

       Users can make  an  inquiry  to  locate  a  badge wearer in order to
       transfer a phone call or send a video message.  Olivetti Research is
       experimenting with reconfiguring   offices  on  the  fly  using  the

       For example, receivers  in  the  PANDORA system find  out  from  the
       database what a  user  was  last working on, enabling a researcher's
       work to follow him from computer to  computer.   Walking away from a
       terminal is the  equivalent  of  logging  off;  approaching  another
       screen "wakes up"  the  machine, which configures itself to whatever
       the user has specified.  The computer even alerts a user to the fact
       that there is a video mail message waiting for him.

       Sensors can also  transmit  to badges,  and  the  Olivetti  Research
       Laboratory ACTIVE BADGE system incorporates paging  functions,  with
       which a user can page a colleague from a terminal.

       ACTIVE BADGES have  been useful in determining security access.  For
       example, sensors enable a security door to generate a small magnetic
       field.  When an authorized badge wearer  enters the field, his badge
       emits an instant pulse that can be checked for the appropriate entry
       permission and trigger  the  door  to  open.   Or   the  sensor  can
       differentiate among a  number  of  badge  wearers  in the same room,
       preventing unnecessary interruptions of meetings.

       No one is  forced  to  wear  these   badges   at  Olivetti  Research
       Laboratory or Cambridge University, but the 130 people on the system
       do because IT MAKES LIFE EASIER.

       There is less  time wasted tracking someone down and  fewer  meeting
       interruptions.  And with  a  built-in photosensitive resistor, it is
       always possible for a user to turn  the  badge  over and effectively
       log off.  Furthermore, all users have access to informaton on WHO is
       monitoring their whereabouts because inquiry information  is  logged
       and recorded.

       An example of  how  the PANDORA system would work in conjuntion with
       the ACTIVE BADGE ;

          It is morning, and I walk into  the  building in which I work and
          into an office I know is unoccupied, I make sure  I'm  wearing my
          identification badge,  and  as I approach the door, he electronic
          lock opens, enabling me to enter the darkened room.

          The lights brighten, and a workstation  on  the  desk  flashes to
          life automatically, displaying a document I recognize  as the one
          I had  been working on yesterday.  I click onto the screen and my
          video mail messages.  There is  a  beep,  and  a colleague's face
          suddenly appears on the screen in another small  window.  I click
          onto that window, and we talk IN REAL TIME about the status of an
          upcoming project.
                                      Page 2

          After we're done, I record a video mail message for another staff
          member to brief him on my recent discussion.  I then click on the
          screen to  get  a  recorded version of the latest television news
          and finally find a minute to sip my coffee.

       Science fiction?  After 3 weeks of  work  on and use of a multimedia
       system called PANDORA  and  devices  known  as  ACTIVE  BADGES  that
       identify and track  people,  the  lab  has been piecing together the
       office of tomorrow.

       The idea is to create an intelligent,  shared office in which a room
       can instantly adapt to a user's personal preferences  (mouse buttons
       reconfigured for left   or   right   handed  use  or  phone  buttons
       programmed with personal codes)  and  in  which  tracking  and video
       capabilities keep staff in constant contact.

       The PANDORA multimedia  system  consists  of a group  of  networked,
       Unix-based workstations that  provide real-time and recorded digital
       audiovisual information for users.   Primary applications for the 20
       Olivetti Research  workstations  included  desktop videoconferencing
       and video mail.

       A PANDORA system   contains   a   video   camera,  a  microphone,  a
       loudspeaker and the  PANDORA processor  box,  which  serves  as  the
       network interface.  The  current  version of this box  contains  six
       processors, which work   as   embedded   controllers  with  discrete

       One processor handles video sampling  from  the camera alongside the
       computer.  A second  acts  as  a  digital  video  mixer  to  combine
       workstation-generated video with  video  coming  from  other PANDORA
       boxes.  The third processor deals  with  audio,  which is handled at
       telephone-quality 8 KHZ  and  is  picked  up by a microphone.   Data
       stream switching is  performed  by  the  fourth  processor, with two
       final devices serving as the I/O processors to the network.  In this
       way, users can run video applications  (controlled  by the processor
       box) as well  as other applications, such as word  processing,  from
       windows on their desktops.

       The simplest use  of  PANDORA  is  just  observation.   The staff at
       Olivetti Research can  view remote  offices  through  video  cameras
       mounted over each   PANDORA   station.   Although   it's   perfectly
       permissible to peek   at  the  scene  surveyed  by  another  PANDORA
       station, a user can't listen to that  station until somebody at that
       end lets him - i.e., accepts the call.

       In addition, if a staff member surveys another office,  the  user in
       that office will always get an image of the surveryor on his screen.
       In this way, no one can observe without being observed.

       In a two-way   videoconference,  PANDORA  handles  four  streams  of
       digital video and audio; two incoming  and two outgoing.  Add one or
       two extra people to make a conference call, and the  load  increases
       exponentially.  The system  has  no  built-in  limits,  but  as  the
       processing demand increases, the visual quality drops.

       Sound is recorded separately from  the video, but it is synchronized
       on playback.  Because  it's better to hear the conversation  clearly
       than to see it, the video is always sacrificed in favor of audio

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       when data traffic  reaches its limits.  Typically, any user can have
       a four-way videoconferencing displaying five windows and mixing five
       audio streams on his terminal without overloading the system.

       This load is one reason why PANDORA utilizes an asychronous transfer
       mode (ATM) network.  ATM allows real-time  performance  to  drop off
       gradually (we call  this  "graceful  degradation")   as  the  system
       becomes congested without losing the video or audio completely.  ATM
       networks can chop  up  data  streams  very finely and preserve their
       real-time attribute.

       By far the most successful PANDORA  application has been video mail.
       This involves recording  short messages and sending  them  to  other
       PANDORA users - a kind of video fax.

       Not only is  it a lot faster to record a video message as opposed to
       composing and typing a written memo,  but  video mail is also a very
       personal form of communication that can convey expression  and  body

       A message from  the boss to drop by his office at the end of the day
       may cause panic - but if you see  that  he  has  a smile on his face
       when he says it, you will probably be less worried.

       Video mail is quick and easy to record and play back.  Videocassette
       recorder-style buttons are provided on the computer  window, and the
       user can start,  pause,  stop, rewind and play back the recording at
       any time.  A cursor or slider control lets him move immediately to a
       position in the recorded sequence  by  using  the mouse, rather like
       scrolling text up and down in a word processor.

       There are cut-and-paste  facilities  for  editing   recordings   and
       creating composite ones  in  which  text  and video is mixed.  Video
       does not have to include only internal  video.   For  instance,  the
       laboratory has a directory of the latest recorded TV  news  that can
       be brought onto the screen at any time and viewed or recorded.

       This broadcast data  resides  on  a  server that we receives live TV
       relays and automatically records the news for users who want to view
       it later.

       Video mail digital  recording  is  stored  remotely  on  a  bank  of
       Winchester disk drives, which currently provide about 2.5 Gbytes, or
       6.4 hours, or recording.

       Because typing a  file  name  and  dialogue text detracts  from  the
       simplicity of video  mail,  Olivetti Research is starting to work on
       voice pattern recognition for filing  and retrieving video mail.  In
       this way, a  user  would simply state the name of the  person  whose
       video mail he'd  like  to  see,  and the system would search for and
       play back the  messages sent by  that  person.   As  for  filing,  a
       powerful voice recognition system may eventually enable  the  system
       to produce an  automatic  transcript  of  a conversation as it takes

       The video mail application is being  isolated  to  run  on  standard
       platforms with a  minimum  of  additional  hardware   and  software.
       Researchers can already  send  and  receive  videomail from an Intel
       Corp. 80386-based personal computer running Microsoft Corp.'s

                                      Page 4

       Windows across a standard network.  They can also send video mail to
       colleagues at Ing.  C. Olivetti & Co. in Italy and Digital Equipment
       Corp. in the U.S. over standard public networks.

       Future advances for PANDORA will  include  features  such  as  high-
       definition color and faster networking.

                                   PICTURE THIS

       There has been plenty of work done on teaching computers to "see" in
       such areas as   robotics   and   on   storing  photographic   images
       electronically.  Now, researchers hope to teach computers to see and
       understand digitized images  so  that  users  can search database of
       photos and other images based on the actual content of the image.

       MIT's Media Laboratories and UK-based  BT (formerly British Telecom)
       have launched a  five-year  project  to develop a method  to  search
       image databases using  analysis  tools  that  do not require textual
       descriptions of the images.

       Alex Pentland, co-director of MIT's  Vision and Modeling Group, said
       of the project's goal.  "For example, a user could show a computer a
       person's picture and ask it to find all the images  with this person
       in them.  The  computer would then retrieve all the pictures, images
       and video files which contain this same face."
       Vangard Notes...

           SHADES of 1984!!  No doubt such  technology offers up tremendous
           potential for the invasion of privacy.  However,  note  that one
           can step away from the network by removing the badge or covering
           up the emitter so that it will not respond.

           Ron and  I  discussed  this article and both agree that it would
           greatly ease communications in our respective work environments.
           Paging over a system wide intercom would be eliminated since the
           user would be directly targeted.  We have long marvelled at some
           of the technologies as shown  in  daily  use  on  Star Trek with
           their personal communicators and long for the day  a  commercial
           system would  be  available.   Well, it looks like it is getting
           close to becoming a reality in everyday life.


         If you have comments or other information  relating to such topics
         as  this paper covers,  please  upload to KeelyNet  or send to the
           Vangard  Sciences  address  as  listed  on the  first  page.
              Thank you for your consideration, interest and support.

           Jerry W. Decker.........Ron Barker...........Chuck Henderson
                             Vangard Sciences/KeelyNet

                     If we can be of service, you may contact
                 Jerry at (214) 324-8741 or Ron at (214) 242-9346

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