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Research to Watch

December 21, 2009

Project: Printcasting

Supported by a $837,000 grant from the Knight News Foundation, Participata is testing a service that allows amateur publishers to create niche and local newsletters and magazines. Magazines are automatically generated from blogs and other online content chosen by the publisher; advertisements, typically from local retailers, are incorporated. Publishers can pay to have the magazine printed or offer it free online. Advertising revenues are shared by publishers, content creators, and Participata.

Project: Ushahidi Engine

Is developing an open-source platform that allows amateur and professional journalists to respond rapidly to regional crises. Users can file reports, which are plotted on an interactive map, by mobile phone, e-mail, or Web interface. Al Jazeera used the first generation of the Ushahidi Engine in its coverage of the Gaza war in January 2009, and activists used it to monitor federal elections in Mexico in July 2009.

Project: Digital Preservation Europe
A consortium of 11 European universities, libraries, and archives

Much of the news coverage and entertainment created today is at risk of being lost within a few years because of changes in technology and the fragility of the storage medium. The consortium is working on methods to store digital media for future accessibility.

Project: Peer-to-Peer Video Broadcast System
Microsoft Research

Transmitting live video streams to large audiences tends to overload the content provider’s bandwidth. Under development is a system that solves the problem using peer-to-peer networks. A demonstration system was used to transmit live footage of the Beijing Olympics.

Project: Google Listen

Using an interface based on the Android operating system, Google Listen is creating a search engine for audio podcasts. It will assemble podcasts matching a search term into a queue, creating a customized “audio magazine.” Only English-language podcasts are currently indexed.

Project: SixthSense
MIT Media Lab

Is creating a wearable augmented-reality system that will overlay digital information onto physical objects around the user.

Project: TV Everywhere
Comcast, Time Warner

Is piloting a system that will allow cable subscribers to access programming on demand from anywhere with an Internet connection, possibly creating a strong competitor to video-streaming websites such as Hulu.

Project: 4G Cellular Network

4G mobile network technology is in its final stages of research and development; the company hopes the roll-out will occur later this year. The data rate should be between 100 megabits and one gigabit per second. (A typical DSL landline in the U.S. has a data rate of one to three megabits per second.) Such speeds would allow high-quality downloads of full-length movies in minutes.

Project: High-Performance Video Coding
Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG)

Aiming to improve video quality on everything from smart phones to giant televisions, the group is evaluating new coding and compression techniques. Previous technologies developed by the group now underlie most digital multimedia formats.

Project: Advertising Works
Yahoo Research

Is attempting to track the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns–in particular, how they affect sales when the reader doesn’t click on the ad.

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