Advanced networks are giving rise to a new kind of collaborative laboratory, or collaboratory, comprised of scientists in far-flung locations working together and sharing information as if in the same room, in real time, and aided by high-resolution imagery and high-definition (HD) video conferencing.


From 2002-2008, a global team of researchers and networking engineers has been building the OptIPuter, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative to dynamically configure a distributed computational facility, where the optical network becomes the “backplane” connecting high-end computing, storage and visualization resources.


In that time, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) and California Institute of Telecommunications and Technology (CALIT2) have been working on the collaboration and visualization tools that OptIPuter users will need to work together. To this end, EVL and CALIT2 have helped develop and deploy the OptIPortal, a networked, scalable, high-resolution LCD tiled-display system that runs SAGE middleware to manage the multi-gigabit data streams displayed in such tiled visualization environments.

The OptIPlanet Collaboratory is now being built through the deployment of OptIPuter-developed tools and techniques to early adopters and global user communities. An international 10Gbps network infrastructure is already in place due to the cooperative effort of the many research and education networks that participate in the Global Lambda Integrated Facility (GLIF) and make bandwidth available for application and middleware development.