One of the big innovations of the Internet protocols was its survivability—its ability to keep data flowing even when there were failures or disruptions in the underlying communications links. This was of intense interest to the Department of Defense and their Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) which sponsored the research that resulted in the Internet. But in making the Internet more survivable, the tradeoff was that information would be delayed if there were congestion or errors.

What if you need that information NOW?

Considerable innovations are still being achieved for what is termed Real-Time Communications in the Internet. In the Smart Gigabit Communities project, we are seeing a good number of smart community applications that need this real-time capability.

The University of Louisiana at SGC Community Lafayette has developed Kvasir-VR—an educational application that teaches high-school students how to manage a commercial solar farm. In this application, a live, 3D instructor is inserted into the VR simulation of the solar farm. Insertion of the live instructor requires reliable and very-low latency real-time networking.

The 4K Microscopy: Next Generation STEM Education project developed by SGC Community Chattanooga and the U. of Southern California allows the middle-school student to manipulate a microscope remotely. Real-time communications between the classroom and microscope are needed so that students changing the focusing point can see when they’ve reached the right focus point.


And, when musicians are playing in ensemble using LOLA4ALL (for example with the World Symphony), they need real-time communications so that they can hear the other musicians as they contribute their own instrument or voice.

This week, US Ignite CTO Glenn Ricart is giving the opening day keynote address at the Real-Time Communications Conference at the Illinois Institute of Technology. His topic is Real-time Communications Applications in Smart Gigabit Communities. In addition to describing applications like those above, he’ll discuss how the Digital Town Square concept is important to the performance of these applications in Smart Gigabit Communities. The promise is that the “World-Wide Wait” will be replaced with the “Instantaneous Internet” when the application requires. And even if you don’t appreciate that, your devices will.

Between the Digital Town Square and the growing support for real-time communications on Linux, Microsoft, and Apple platforms, the way is being paved for an explosion of gigabit applications that operate in synchrony with the real world.