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Bristol to provide cutting edge cloud network technology to enhance the fields of telemedicine

The CURVES suite at Cardiff showing an immersive training session involving two trainee radiographers positioning a virtual patient and enacting a treatment fraction from a virtual LINAC

The CURVES suite at Cardiff showing an immersive training session involving two trainee radiographers positioning a virtual patient and enacting a treatment fraction from a virtual LINAC Cardiff University

Press release issued: 19 April 2013

Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Cardiff will today [Friday 19 April] show how groundbreaking ultra high definition (UHD) technology is making a real difference in remote medical training and diagnosis, with 3D demonstrations on a ‘virtual patient’.

Already used by trainee radiographers at Cardiff University, UHD technology, using the UK’s research and education high-speed data network Janet, has the potential to revolutionise the way medical training is conducted. It will not only free up treatment rooms for patients but also enable students to grow their competences in a virtual world before treating 'actual' patients. By sharing resources with other sites significant savings could also be made, as well as enabling shared expertise.

Nick Avis, Professor of Interactive Visualization and Virtual Environments at Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science & Informatics, said: “The great thing about UHD video is that it enables us to use high fidelity visuals to replicate the human body, which are critical for modern diagnostics. However, delivering this data-intensive1 digital media to remote users, whilst retaining high visual quality, requires high-speed networking and infrastructure.

“We are fortunate to be able to use Janet’s high capacity data network to collaborate with research partners and push the boundaries of this technology, not only in the UK but internationally too.”

Today’s demonstration will show radiographers at Cardiff’s Healthcare Studies undergoing training on a ‘virtual patient’ using 3D technology that brings to life an area of the body in need of treatment.  The streams, of 4-8K content (that’s 4 – 8 times the resolution of normal HD) will also be shared with other sites at Bristol and PSNC (The Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Centre in Poland). A second demonstration will show computational modelling on arterial cells - the results of a collaboration with the Cardiovascular Sciences Research Group based at the Wales Heart Research Institute in Cardiff.

Dimitra Simeonidou, Professor of High Performance Networks in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol, explained: “For remote applications, such as real time medical training to thrive, the network infrastructure must become dynamic and readily consumable. A fundamentally new approach is required in the way we design today's networks.

“The High Performance Networks group at Bristol develops ground-breaking technology which automates any network infrastructure, transforming it into a reflexive environment that instantaneously establishes network services at global scales. Today we demonstrate the benefits of such technologies using the medical training platform at Cardiff as exemplar application.”

This showcase is the first of two run by the UK UHD consortium, consisting of the Universities of Cardiff, Bristol and Strathclyde, and Glasgow School of Art.  This group is the first of its kind in the country to build an integrated networked infrastructure for research into novel multimedia techniques and networking architectures.  Through their work, the group aims to develop and deploy the next generation of networked UHD applications.

Emma Smith, Video Projects Co-ordinator at Janet, added: “Ultra High Definition is the next generation of high fidelity digital media.  Until now it has been most heavily associated with the entertainment industry and more recently large-screen coverage of the 2012 Olympics.

“This research will not only benefit research and education, but also has the potential to enable virtual museums/tourism, performing arts collaborations and many more. We are pleased to be able to support these types of collaborations over Janet.”

Already other research into UHD technology is taking shape as a direct result of this project. This includes a proposal for an EU/Brazil partnership to explore the infrastructure requirements to combine technical developments in cloud technology and the use of high definition content. It may yet be some years off, but as research in this area develops we may start to see its deployment across a wider range of disciplines, and eventually across mainstream video.

A second showcase will take place later in the year at Glasgow School of Art to further demonstrate the use of this technology.


Further information

About Ultra HD

Recent technological advancements in the fields of Information Science and Digital Technology, have led to the creation of a new class of multimedia content collectively referred to as Ultra High Definition (UHD). (2K - 2048 x 1080 spatial resolution, 2K 3D, QuadHD - 3840 x 2160 spatial resolution, 4K- 4096 x 2160 spatial resolution, 4K 3D, 8K - 8192 x 4320 spatial resolution) represent today’s highest quality multimedia content. Uncompressed delivery of 4K and 8K would require 7.6Gbps and 30 Gbps.

Evidence of a growth in this type of content can be seen in the entertainment industry, with the emergence of digital film and live sports in 3D, along with immersive digital theatres. However, there are some pending issues that have to be resolved before SHD/UHD media applications can be readily deployed by application developers and service providers.

Existing production networks cannot always deliver the necessary high bandwidth and low latency that is required for the delivery of such data-intensive digital media as UHD. Uncompressed delivery of 4K and 8K content would require 7.6 Gbps and 30 Gbps (assuming 24 fps and 36 bits per pixel) respectively, and this exceeds the present capabilities of traditional IP networks. Janet’s high-speed network infrastructure for research and education, is able to support these activities using dedicated Lightpaths.

High costs of both multimedia and networking resources is a strong limiting factor for the use of this technology for most research groups, as they do not possess the financial capabilities to acquire all required resources.

The key to overcoming this limitation is to build an integrated infrastructure, which is able to interconnect the existing distributed multimedia and networking resources. This would support extensive end-to-end research on next generation networked multimedia applications.

About the Janet Network

Janet is the network dedicated to the needs of research and education in the UK. It connects the UK’s research and education organisations to each other, as well as to the rest of the world through links to the global internet. In addition, Janet includes a separate network that is available to the community for experimental activities in network development.

About Jisc

Jisc is an independent education charity, owned by the Association of Colleges (AoC), GuildHE and Universities UK (UUK). It provides UK higher education, further education and skills sectors support on the use of digital technologies. It provides advice and guidance through Jisc Advance and owns a subsidiary company, Jisc Collections and Janet Limited, which provides an academic telecommunications network infrastructure and digital content services for over 19 million users across the UK.

Jisc's vision is to make the UK the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world. Jisc's mission is to enable the education sector in the UK to perform at the forefront of international practice by exploiting fully the possibilities of modern digital empowerment, content and connectivity.

About Janet6

Janet provides a world-class network infrastructure to meet the needs of the UK¹s research and education community. With nearly 30 years of uninterrupted service to over 18M users, Janet is building the next generation of the Janet infrastructure – Janet6. The new Janet6 infrastructure will provide continued support for the UK's knowledge economy whilst ensuring best value for our customers. It has been built to support emerging technologies and enable customers to exploit the benefits they bring.


Janet® is the registered trademark of the Higher Education Funding Councils for England, Scotland and Wales. Jisc Collections and Janet Limited is the registered user of this trademark, Janet(UK)® and EdLab® is the registered trademark of Jisc Collections and Janet Limited.

About Cardiff University

Cardiff University is a member of The Russell Group of Universities.

The Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics is a research-led School with a reputation for excellent teaching and internationally accomplished research activities. The School employs over 60 teaching or research active staff.

Our research publications and activities were examined in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and 70% of the submitted research was considered to be in the two highest categories identifying it as either world-leading or internationally excellent.

In terms of the proportion of 4* and 3* research, Computer Science & Informatics at Cardiff is ranked joint 18th in the UK out of 81 submissions; on this same basis the School is joint 1st in Wales.

The School of Computer Science & Informatics has a longstanding, strong and dynamic research culture. It is this culture that has given rise to its international reputation for world-class research in the areas of distributed & scientific computing, informatics and visual computing. The School's multidisciplinary research continues to have a positive impact in areas as diverse as healthcare, mobile communications and the environment.

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