Annual Highlights

Technological Highlights

Distributed Applications and Networks

In terms of project development and the ability to raise funds for implementing them, the Distributed Applications and Networks Area of i2CAT (DANA) successfully managed to have four proposals out of a total of nineteen presented. This meant that the success rate in 2013 for the European proposals in which DANA participates was finally 21%, which is significantly higher than the average success rate of the different calls issued that year (estimated at around 10%). This once again confirms the international-wide relevance of the DANA investigations, developments, proofs of concepts and services. Furthermore, the DANA team managed to execute more than fifteen European projects in parallel, several of which were directly coordinated.

With regards the Recursive Inter-Network Architecture research line, as a result of the EC project IRATI, the DANA team successfully built the first prototype for RINA technology that will support data centre inter-connection through truly flexible and fully manageable Virtual Private Networks. This achievement was a result of the finalisation of the technical specification of RINA overlay over Ethernet VLANs technology combined with extensive testing of highly configurable Distributed Inter-Process Communication Facilities over the European OFELIA experimentation infrastructure.

Strong collaboration between the Infrastructure Control and Management research line and the Professional Services line has resulted in a range of mission specific network applications built on top of the OpenNaaS framework. During 2013, OpenNaaS code was majorly refactored in order to transition from a project result into a framework for building enterprise-class proofs of concept for novel network applications in virtualised environments. Precisely in the scope of virtualisation, ICM has made relevant advances in carrying the concepts of Software Defined Network architectures and Network Functions Virtualisation to new areas that may benefit from such promising technologies. In particular, ICM applied SDN/NFV by implementing network applications over OpenNaaS to manage and control Open, Converged Access Networks (based on hybrid radio-optical networks), as a result of internal initiatives and the FP7 project SODALES.

Last but not least, the Future Internet Testbeds research line has further advanced on laying the foundations for experimentation from architectural, design and tooling perspectives. During 2013, the team made a special shift to maximise usability and applicability of the solutions. For this reason, DANA started developing skills on OpenStack management to create integrated network solutions in the scope of the Géant3+ project for the research and academia communities (Testbeds as a Service) and to better support the Future Internet Research and Experimentation community together with strengthening international relationships with Brazil, Japan and the United States of America (GENI community).

eHealth Portal

There is a growing need to rethink the delivery of health care services and the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders in the Health system. In this regard, i2CAT Foundation in collaboration with the Hospital Sant Joan de Deu de Barcelona, have committed to a new healthcare model with the development of the eHealth Portal, an online platform for medical care and communication between health professionals and patients, providing personalised health services while reducing healthcare costs.

The aim of the eHealth Portal is to extend patient care beyond the physical boundaries of the hospital, and to promote the exchange of knowledge between professionals and patients. By means of internet-based tools, such as videoconferencing, private e-mail, access to Hospital Information Systems, and mobile apps, the platform provides accurate and reliable information and tools for patient empowerment and increased knowledge about their disease, thus improving their quality of life.

The main benefits of the eHealth Portal is that the communication channel between patients and professionals is unified and standardised, ensuring adequate, safe and personalised health information in accordance with the rules and regulations on the protection of personal data. Moreover, the available resources are optimised, resulting in reduced costs due to a more thorough remote interaction between doctor and patient, enabling new business models.

The developed platform aims to change the current paradigm of healthcare, in which the patient plays a “passive” role, to a new vision that considers the patient as the main “active” component of their health by providing reliable tools for the telemonitoring of patients both during the healing process and during healthy periods, as well as to enhance its functionalities by adopting or integrating modules from third parties.

Audiovisual and interactive applications

In 2013, the Audiovisual Area (AA) of i2CAT initiated TV-Ring, the first European project coordinated by this team. TV-RING brings together European broadcasters, research centres, software developers and service providers to develop and test applications and infrastructures for the future Connected TV. The project also promotes collaboration among relevant stakeholders through an Open Forum. The AA has also initiated the participation in other relevant European projects like Specifi and FIContent-2, mainly oriented to the provisioning of Future Internet technologies to the creative industry.

Among the research activities, the Audiovisual Area signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CESNET in 2013 to support the development of the UltraGrid software. UltraGrid is an open-source software for real-time and high definition video and audio streaming network transmissions. It uses uncompressed or very low compression-ratio streams to achieve up to 8K resolutions with an end-to-end latency as low as 100ms.

In the framework of the project I AM, another European project, the AA also signed a MoU with the American University of Lebanon in order to start building a joint task force to research augmented reality technologies, mainly in rendering systems for mobile phones and localisation and mapping algorithms.

In terms of product development, in 2013 the group launched activities in the area of mobile applications. Two main projects have begun: the interactive guide of Empúries and the interactive guide to modernism in Terrassa. Augmented Terrassa is an application conceived as a journey that highlights the rich cultural and industrial heritage of the city. The Empúries Guide supplements the visitor tour with special emphasis on the visualisation of 3D reconstructions of emblematic buildings at Greek and Roman sites.

Additionally, a first release of the IP-AV-Mixing Tool has been finished, this is a cloud-based application designed to receive, mix and transmit AV streams over IP networks. Real-time mixing, switching and effect application, along with a web-based GUI, are some of the features which make this application a distributed software version of traditional AV production elements.

Wireless communications and Energy Efficiency

The ENERGRID technology has been developed by the Ubiquitous Internet Technologies Unit of i2CAT (UITU) for ENDESA, which is one of the biggest energy suppliers in Spain. ENERGRID consists of a set of smart node, which coupled to a backend system allow the aggregate power consumption in a building to be monitored, as well as define intelligent energy policies. Thus, the technology is applicable to residential homes, company premises, factories, and public buildings. In 2013, ENERGRID has been successfully demonstrated in a smart rural house, owned by the IAAC institute.

With ENERGRID, the UITU team has demonstrated its excellent engineering skills by developing all aspects of the technology, from the electronics to the radio technology, which is based on 6lowPAN, and to the scalable backend system, which allows third-party applications to access ENERGRID in a controlled and secure way.

During 2013, the UITU also developed an energy efficient smart mote, designed for ORANGE. In this project, the UITU team was challenged with a unique set of requirements for which there is no available solution in the market. The goal was to design an advanced and autonomous compact M2M device able to send periodic measurement reports through the mobile network. ORANGE will now start trails on the M2M device designed for a variety of applications.

Industrial Ring

Anella Industrial (Industrial Ring) has begun working as a real multi-operator infrastructure, starting with 3 different telco companies. In addition, two partners meetings focused on applying cutting-edge ICT technologies to the automotive sector and Factories of the Future (FoF) were held during 2013 with more than 30 participants each.

Throughout the year Anella Industrial grew with new 29 members, including the Circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya. With these new partners, coming from different markets, such as manufacturing, automotive and audiovisual, the Industrial Ring has currently more than 70 members of different typologies: network operators, supercomputing centres, car manufacturers, software developers and engineering companies that provide services in the whole automotive value chain.