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NTT and MIT to collaborate in deal worth up to $18M

The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and MIT have announced a research collaboration aimed at creating new technologies in telecommunication and computers and establishing a foundation for global progress in these areas. Funding for the five-year program will be a maximum of $18 million.

The collaboration is focused on pre-competitive research in information technology and computer science in a world where there is ample bandwidth for everyone in the gigabits-per-second range and beyond. Areas covered by the collaborative research will include:

l Architecture (basic hardware and software concepts for designing computer systems), protocol (request and reply formats for exchanging data between computers) and applications for next-generation high-speed networks;

l Technologies (including cognition, input/output devices, language, vision and intelligence) for human computer interfaces in a networked world;

l Software engineering approaches for large-scale networked and human interface systems.

Research projects selected for year one include: developing wireless infrastructure and system architecture for self-configuring networks of devices, a computer vision system that allows people to view sporting events from any perspective, and spoken dialogue interfaces that allow people to access information in multiple languages. At MIT, the research will be carried out primarily at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory and the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS).

The collaborative research is managed by a six-member joint steering committee, which selects research projects proposed by MIT principal investigators with NTT research staff. It will review the progress of ongoing projects and select new ones on a yearly basis. The committee is co-chaired by Dr. Koichi Matsuda, senior vice president and executive manager of NTT Science and Core Technologies Laboratory Group, and Dr. Rodney Brooks, director of the AI Lab.

Other members of the steering committee are Dr. Yoh'ichi Tohkura, vice president and executive manager of NTT Basic Research Laboratories; Dr. Haruhisa Ichikawa, executive manager of the NTT Global Computing and Software Laboratories; Dr. Michael Dertou-zos, director of the LCS, and Dr. Victor Zue, associate director of the LCS.

NTT, by emphasizing the importance of basic research in the ongoing company reorganization, will promote increased collaboration with outside research organizations by opening its labs to facilitate collaborations with the international research community.

NTT joins Ford, Merck and Amgen as the fourth industrial leader in the last few years to collaborate with MIT on large-scale research projects.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 30, 1998.

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