Malaysia Develops Multipoint Video-Conferencing System

Malaysia has successfully tested a desktop video-conferencing system on a satellite-based wide area network (WAN), which its makers claim is the world’s first multipoint-to-multipoint video-conferencing system.

“The link-up was fast, and had smooth full motion video transmission in real-time without any of the timelags and robotic movements associated with conventional systems,” said researcher Sureswaran Ramadass. Sureswaran heads the collaborative research team of the Science University of Malaysia in Penang (USM) and local network research outfit Multimedia Research Lab Sdn Bhd (Mlabs) which invented the Multimedia Conferencing System (MCS).

The test took place in February between Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd’s Astro broadcast complex, near Kuala Lumpur and its office in Kota Kinabalu in the eastern state of Sabah on a 1Mbps satellite link-up. Astro is the country’s only satellite pay-TV operator.
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Homegrown tech talent

By Anita Devasahayam

SURESWARAN Ramadass, head of the Network Research Group at the School of Computer Sciences in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), earned his Masters of Science in Electrical/Computer Engineering from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida in 1990.

He graduated with honours and is currently pursuing his PhD in Computer Science at USM.

The 32-year-old is actively involved in the networking movement in the region. He is the head of Asia Pacific Advanced Networks (APAN) in Malaysia. APAN is the high bandwidth ATM network project aimed at interconnecting Asia Pacific countries.

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From R&D to commerce

By Anita Devasahayam

MULTIMEDIA Research Lab Sdn Bhd (Mlabs) opened its doors for business in October, 1997.

The Penang company, formerly known as Profound Blue Sdn Bhd, is a spin-off of venture capital firm Compquest Sdn Bhd that was responsible for funding the Multimedia Conferencing System (MCS) research work.

Compquest holds a 35% stake in Mlabs, while the balance is divided among individual shareholders.
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The MCS ‘generations gap’

By Anita Devasahayam

SO WHAT is it about USM’s Multimedia Conferencing System 4.0 (MCS) that differentiates it from the rest of the pack?

According to the head of the network research group at USM, Sureswaran Ramadass, two concepts — “RSW control criteria” and a distributed processing method — place the product two generations ahead of its closest competitor.

He claims that other vendors have begun to follow in their footsteps by introducing similar concepts that were pioneered by Sureswaran (Sures) and his research team.

“They are beginning to catch on the concept that you need different things to do different functions, but they are talking about it and have not implemented it,” he claims.
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Ahead of the pack, and local too

By Anita Devasahayam

BEING a lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) means Sureswaran Ramadass has two roles to fulfil — teaching, and getting involved in research and development.

The lecturer at USM’s School of Computer Sciences loves both aspects of his profession, but proving theorems right and turning hypotheses into reality seems especially sweet.

But even he was surprised when a product birthed out of four years of research work was recognised by the Multimedia and Distributed Systems Journal, published by the renowned Kluwer scientific publishing house, as being two generations ahead of others available in the market today.

The product in question, a desktop multimedia video-conferencing system called — simply enough — Multimedia Conferencing System (MCS), is essentially a “video-chat” tool. But it differs from like products offered by well established names like like Intel, Intellect Visual Comm, CoreTech Software or PictureTel.

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