People, 1. -  3. October 1998
Leon Van Noorden
Abstract: Homo www: the artefacts

When the European Union started its Research and development programmes on Advanced Communication (RACE programme), back in 1985, the goal was to enable commercial broadband services at the end of a 10 year period. However, it was by no means clear how these services would be used. What would be the bits with which these broadband pipes would be filled? The application studies were mostly related to industrial processes and a single case of videophony for common people. In the second RACE programme more attention was devoted to broadcasting and video on demand Services. This work contributed strongly to the development of technology for digital TV but it had not yet much effect on daily life.

Only during the subsequent ACTS programme (Advanced Communication Technologies and Services, 1994-1998) a clue could be found on how this high tech will have an impact upon of our life, namely the connection of the Broadband Services with the Internet and its World Wide Web.

The WWW provides us with a first glimpse of what the applications of the advanced telecom infrastructures will look like. Nowadays the access to the Internet from the home is for most people still only narrowband and clumsy for moving images. But the same technology can provide better quality as soon as the bandwidth increases. This will become available as all standardisation bodies that were working on broadband digital audio visual services, such as DAVIC, DVB and ATSC, are developing software interfaces to enable the integration of these services in the Internet.

ACTS projects have developed technologies to create return channels on all broadcast transmission media. These range from very narrowband return channels on radio distribution to rather wideband channels on (wireless) cable networks. Also technology for streaming moving images on normal telephone lines exist. This means that in principle everybody can become a "television station". Certainly if they are assisted by the 3D and Virtual Reality creation tools that have been developed. Creative talents will have access to a larger market, be it a market with severe competition for spectators' attention. It enables an easier integration of SME's and larger industries and the creation of virtual offices. The Internet will influence more and more how we communicate, work, live together and enjoy art.

Biography: (1945, Maastricht)
co-ordinator of the Interactive Digital Multimedia Services Domain of ACTS - (Advanced Communication and Services) of the European Union. Joined the Commission in 1989 for the RACE programme as an expert on Human Factors in Telecommunications. Worked previously for KPN and Dutch Association of the Blind. Holds degree in Technical Physics and Ph.D. in Auditory Perception. Father of "networked" children and composer of experimental music.
Institution: European Commission, DG XIII
panel 2 debate 3