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AARNet to 'step up' to dance floor for world contest

Australian and Korean B-boys will settle their differences by videoconference in a dance battle set to go off this Sunday. Australia's research-and-education broadband network, AARNet, will connect three large public screens in Melbourne, Perth and Seoul in a demonstration of technology bridging distant cultures.

The dance-off between the two nations will go down via real-time videoconferencing, connecting 65-square-meter LED screens in Federation Square, Melbourne, Northbridge Piazza, Perth and the Art Center Nabi in Seoul. The event is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. AEST.

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The contest is part of a five-year project funded by the Australian Research Council and designed by the University of Melbourne, University of Western Australia and University of Sydney.

The project is in its third year, but Sunday's dance-off will be its "first big splash," AARNet project director, Doug Farmer, told Computerworld Australia. "This is the first time that large public screens have been linked in this way for public, real-time interaction."

Why dance? Farmer said the University of Melbourne "sees dance as a medium to facilitate that cross-cultural exchange that can transcend the language boundaries."

AARNet's goal is to enable true real-time interactions between the two countries. A similar dance event was tried last year using Skype, but video quality was lacking in both crispness and fluidity, Farmer said. "You really need sufficient bandwidth and stability to be able to throw this up on a large screen and still look good."

Each Australian location will connect into the Internet through the AARNet3 network. The Seoul screen will connect first into Korea's fibre network and then go to AARNet's point of presence in Singapore. AARnet will bridge the locations and manage what is shown on each screen.

The system is expected to relay 720p HD video at about 7Mbps, Farmer said. "The guys could push it higher, but for the requirement of these screens, [720p] was ideal." While the dance contest will happen across three screens, it "could equally have been done on four or six," he said.

"Because it's fast-moving dance content, it's important that lag times are at a minimum," he said. AARNet will use a point-of-presence in Singapore so the traffic "doesn't have to do a lap of the world to get to Korea."

A previous AARNet test showed how videoconferencing can bring industry professionals into the classroom.

Stay tuned next week for photos from the event.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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