Meet the SPIRIT Partners: a combined interview with IMEC’s Peter Van Daele and Filip De Turck.

Peter Van Daele

is a professor at Ghent University and a permanent member of staff from IMEC (Interuniversity MicroElectronics Center) in Belgium and more specifically with the IDLab (Internet Technology and Data Science Lab). He was and is directly responsible for several EU-funded research projects both on a technological and coordinating level in the field of photonics, Future Internet and Next Generation Internet, such as the recently finished H2020-project Fed4FIRE+ offering open access to the largest federation worldwide of facilities for experimentational research in the area of Next Generation Internet. Peter Van Daele is the author or co-author of over 400 publications and presentations in international journals or at international conferences and is involved in the organization of some major conferences in the field such as ECOC (European Conference on Optical Communications). Since 2017 he is also the Secretary General of URSI, The International Union of Radio Science.

Filip De Turck

is a full professor at the department of Information Technology (Intec) of Ghent University with expertise in communication software, network resource management, adaptive service delivery and efficient large scale data processing. In this research area, he is involved in and successfully completed many research projects with industry and academia, served as Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Network Operations and Management (CNOM), former chair of the Future Internet Cluster of the European Commission, is on the TPC of many international network and service management conferences and workshops and serves on the Editorial Board of several network and service management journals. Prof. Filip De Turck regularly organizes international workshops on the above mentioned topics, served as Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management (TNSM), and serves as steering committee member of the IEEE/IFIP NOMS, IFIP/IEEE IM, IEEE NetSoft and IFIP/IEEE CNSM. Prof. Filip De Turck was named a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) for outstanding technical contributions to network resource management and adaptive service delivery. He is currently the (co-)author of over 800 publications. 

Q: Who is imec, who are the persons involved in SPIRIT, and what is the role of imec in SPIRIT?  

A: Imec is a world-renowned research center, located in Belgium, focusing on nano- and digital technology innovations, where IDLab (also affiliated with Ghent University) is one of the research groups, targeting industry challenges related to digital transformation, ubiquitous connectivity and value extraction from data, in various application domains. 

Peter Van Daele is leading the SPIRIT project, having a long-term track record in coordinating EU projects. Especially the recently finished Fed4FIRE+ project, has provided him with hands-on expertise on organizing Open Calls to access integrated testbeds, as is also the aim of SPIRIT. 

Filip De Turck is head of the IDLab team that investigates network and service management solutions for various application domains, including video delivery, where senior researchers José Santos, Jeroen van der Hooft and Tim Wauters are active in. 

As such, imec leads SPIRIT and is mainly responsible for providing innovative technology enablers to the SPIRIT platform, dealing with computational resource management, network protocols and coding solutions. 

Q: Why are you participating in a Horizon Europe Innovation Action? What are the specific challenges that motivated you to join this project?

A: Within imec, IDLab has a long-term expertise in networked solutions for video streaming. Since a few years, we have been exploring the exciting world of virtual reality applications, which opens up additional research challenges compared to traditional video delivery on coding, transport and processing aspects, which are at the heart of our research. 

In SPIRIT, we meet again with several partners that we worked with in bilateral collaborations or in recent EU projects, including University of Klagenfurt, the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications Heinrich Hertz Institute and Digital for Planet, but we are also eager to collaborate with the other leading industry and academic partners in Europe that are part of this exceptional consortium. 

Q: Which specific technical goals and work will imec contribute to?

A: In SPIRIT, our overall aim is to provide solutions that enable the end user to experience XR applications in an immersive way. To this end, imec focuses on the interplay between low-latency and high-throughput transport solutions (optimizing protocols, such as WebRTC and low-latency DASH), efficient and scalable distributed resource management (focusing on network-awareness in edge clouds) and novel content formats (such as point clouds), to achieve high-quality end-to-end video streaming performance for multi-party immersive scenarios. 

Q: At the end of its lifetime, what do you think SPIRIT’s contribution to the European XR environment will be? 

A: SPIRIT will provide a playground for academia, SME and large industry players to test out their innovative solutions and help validate their applications in a realistic environment. Being able to experiment on an open testbed with various novel technologies and enablers will provide valuable insights to all players in the XR ecosystem, for a wide variety of application domains.