QoMEX 2020 “hosted” in Ireland

QoMEX was broadcast and hosted virtually from Athlone Institute of Technology and UCD, Dublin

Andrew Hines (QxLab, UCD) and Niall Murray (AIT) hosted the International Conference on Quality of Multimedia Experience (QoMEX) in a virtual online format last week.

The conference provides an annual forum for experts from academia and industry to present and discuss current and future research on multimedia quality, quality of experience (QoE) and user experience (UX). The 12th edition, in 2020, was a conference unlike any that has gone before it. As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions, QoMEX 2020 was be held online as a virtual event. Without the planned “céad míle fáilte” or one hundred thousand welcomes for visitors to Athlone, Ireland, a three day technical programme and adapted social events were delivered in a novel and memorable experience for all attendees.

Curating an online conference programme was very different from a face-to-face event. But live streaming oral sessions, social zoom breakouts and virtual reality poster and pitch sessions through Mozilla Hubs gave attendees many of the regular conference experiences in a slightly repackaged way. There was even a traditional Irish style social music jam session.

Stephen Brewster (University of Glasgow), Hayley Hung (Delft University of Technology ) and Mel Slater’s (University of Barcelona) delivered keynotes to the largest ever number of attendees in the history of the conference with over 330 participants registered.

A big thanks to all of the support team based in UCD and AIT without whom the conference would never have made it into the cloud!

QxLab has a new member! Welcome Dr. Helard Becerra

Welcome and congratulations on becoming Postdoctoral Research Associate at QxLab.  Helard joined QxLab from Universidade de Brasília where his PhD research into multimodal QoE models led to the development of an audiovisual model for predicting Quality of Experience using data-driven neural networks and autoencoders.  His current research interests include audio-visual signals, quality metrics, multimedia processing and machine learning.

NAVE: An Autoencoder-based Video Quality Metric

NAVE is an autoencoder based video quality model

This month our latest research will be presented at the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP) in Taipei, Taiwan. This is the premier event for image and video processing featuring international researchers and experts in this field.

We will present a Video Quality Metric that uses a deep autoencoder to train a model for video quality prediction. The presentation will be on Tuesday, 24 September at noon as part of a wider session on Novel Approaches for Image & Video Quality Assessment.

My paper, along with research by accepted authors, is currently available as a free download on IEEE Xplore until 25 September 2019. I hope you’ll download it and share any insights, feedback, and questions with me.

 

Seeking words of Wisdom

QxLab took a couple of days away from our desks for a co-located writing workshop. Basing ourselves in one of UCD’s new University Club meeting rooms, we spent two days working on our research writing.  A starter session reflected on writing style and discussed where to publish. We practiced with some free writing and structured writing exercises and reviewed Brown’s 8 questions as a set of prompts.

  1. Who are intended readers? (3-5 names)
  2. What did you do? (50 words)
  3. Why did you do it? (50 words)
  4. What happened? (50 words)
  5. What do results mean in theory? (50 words)
  6. What do results mean in practice? (50 words)
  7. What is the key benefit for readers (25 words)
  8. What remains unresolved? (no word limit)

These questions, originally devised by Robert Brown but popularized by Rowena Murray, are a great way to get a writing retreat going. The rest of the sessions were spent progressing our writing towards our personal writing objectives – a bit like a natural language “Hackathon”.

For the final session we chose a short piece of own own writing and shared them for a non-judgemental peer review session where the author could choose the scope for their own feedback. A lot of the feedback followed common themes as we fell into similar traps with our writing.

A recent twitter thread offered a lot of advice we could relate to and a key take home message was to remember was that when you read published papers you only see the finished article. The papers you read have been through countless iterations and review feedback sessions from co-authors, reviewers and copy editors. Don’t compare your first draft to a published paper!

 

Useful references

Murray, R (2005) Writing for Academic Journals. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.

Murray, R & Moore, S (2006) The handbook of academic writing: A fresh approach. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.

Fusion Confusion in Massachusetts

Today QxLab’s Dr Abubakr Siddig presented collaborative work on immersive multimedia. As part of the ACM MMSys conference in University of Massachusetts Amherst Campus, the International Workshop on IMmersive Mixed and Virtual Environment Systems, MMVE 2019 is celebrating its 11th edition.

The paper, Fusion Confusion: Exploring Ambisonic Spatial Localisation for Audio-Visual Immersion Using the McGurk Effect, looked at the relationship between visual cues and spatial localisation for speech sounds.

AbuBakr rehearsing his presentation at the QxLab group meeting

The paper found that the McGurk Effect, where visual cues for sounds override what you hear, occurs for spatial audio but is not sensitive to whether the speech sound is aligned in space with the lips of the speaker.

The research, carried out by QxLab’s UCD based researchers and funded by two SFI centre’s CONNECT and INSIGHT.

Well done to AbuBakr, the presentation and demo were well received by the workshop attendees.

Demo of the fusion confusion at MMVE.

QxLab at ISSC 2019

QxLab has two papers at the Irish Signals and Systems Conference in Maynooth University today.  MSc student, Tong Mo presented work of speech Quality of Experience. Her research investigated how computer models for speech quality prediction in systems such as Skype or Google Hangouts. She developed an algorithm to minimise errors in the presence of jitter buffers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A second paper was presented by PhD candidate Hamed Jahromi entitled, “Establishing Waiting Time Thresholds in Interactive Web Mapping Applications for Network QoE Management.” Hamed’s work looked at the perception of time in web applications. Is an additional delay of half a second noticeable if you have already waited 5 seconds for a Google Map page to load? Time is not absolute and Hamed wants to understand the impact of delays on web applications in order to optimise network resources for interactive applications other than speech and video streaming. This work was co-authored with Delcan T. Delaney from UCD Engineering and Brendan Rooney from UCD Psychology.

This research was sponsored by UCD School of Computer Science and the SFI CONNECT Centre for Future Networks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a lot of Hot Air compared to Quantum Computers

I was back at the RDS in Dublin visiting the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. Beginning in 1963, the exhibition concept was created by to UCD academics from the School of Physics. Fast forward to 30 years ago and I participated for the first of two visits. Arriving in again to visit thirty years later, I was struck by the  professional finish of posters. So much has improved, but I still love the hand made stands and eye catching props to lure you into a project. As you can see from the newspaper clipping, our project may have involved a lot of hot air but I recall there was some scientific rigour to our methodology!

I met 2019 winner of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, Adam Kelly, while judging the national finals of SciFest 2018  where he also won first prize. As a judge I was struck by his demonstration of all the attributes of a quality scientist: imagination, methodology and a great ability to communicate the work. He knew what he had done and was able to explain what he had not done, and why. Adam’s project for SciFest was entitled ‘An Open Source Solution to Simulating Quantum Computers Using Hardware Acceleration’ and was the overall winner out of more than 10,000 students competed in the regional heats to progress to the national SciFest 2018 final.

Adam Kelly (Photo: Irish Times)

The event is an inspiring way to start the year: seeing the curiosity and scientific rigour on display by second level students who are motivated not by the prizes but by the desire to explore interesting questions.

Abbey Road Hackathon

QxLab’s Alessandro Ragano was in London’s Abbey Road Studio with his team ‘the Tailors’. The ‘Tailors’ helped find a way to provide an artificial companion for singers and songwriters. Taking lyrics and sentiment using Microsoft’s Cognitive APIs.

The 24 hour challenge, aimed to reinvent music innovation and production in collaboration with Microsoft to transform the way we create and experience music. Top industry mentors will assist participants as they work together to create solutions and explore questions.

Video credit: @abbeyroadred

Dr AbuBakr Siddig joins QxLab

The SFI CONNECT research centre for future networks project has funded  the recruitment of a new postdoctoral research fellow at QxLab. Dr AbuBakr Siddig completed a PhD at University College Dublin and an MSc in Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. He brings experience in digital signal processing and 802.11 wireless networking to the group. Welcome AbuBakr!

Andrew is now a Senior Member of the IEEE

In recognition of his contributions to the profession, Andrew has been elevated to Senior Member status in the IEEE. And he even got a nice wooden plaque to prove it!

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is a professional association with over 430,000 members worldwide and is active in related industry standards, conferences, and publications.