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Professors in India Get US Patent for Conferencing

January 05, 2017

As Internet speeds continued to increase and video communications became a viable solution, institutions of higher learning around the world started using the technology for education. Everyone from Harvard to Stanford was offering a variety of open learning opportunities for free to the world at large, while also using it for their enrolled students to collaborate and share with other universities during lectures, research and classes. But in most cases, the students were not able to participate fully because of the limitation of the conferencing technology. The U.S. patent the professors from Amrita University received increases the level of collaboration and interaction not only with the professors, but also with other students.

The patent was given to P Venkat Rangan, Balaji Hariharan, Ramkumar Narayanankutty, Sreedevi Ambili Gopakumar and Uma Gopalakrishnan, who are faculty members of the university in July 2016. Called the Tele-Immersive Gaze Alignment Technology, it was invented by the wireless networks and applications department to allow students to participate, interact and collaborate during a videoconference with greater ease.

“We conducted several experiments by participating in classrooms conducted via current e-learning platforms. Our observations showed that distant participants often find it difficult to interact with the teacher and almost impossible with their remote peers,” said project lead, P Venkat Rangan.

The research started in 2012, and it was jointly funded by the university and the National Knowledge Network (NKN) with the goal of increasing the participation rate of students in remote locations. The professors then proposed to create an automated system that would enrich the interaction experience by finding a solution that would fix the gaze alignment of conferencing participants.

The Tele-Immersive Gaze Alignment Technology is able to capture the gesture of students and alert the professor of a student that is trying to get their attention. The system uses vector geometry based tele-immersive automatic gaze correction technology for live e-learning classrooms and brings them together across different geographical locations. Based on the user case study conducted by the professors, the classroom sessions experienced a 78.72 percent improvement.

The professors want to scale the technology and improve the e-learning classroom experience by making videoconferencing as natural and interactive as participating in a regular classroom, while increasing the level of collaboration between universities around the world.

Edited by Alicia Young