The federal government and private industry will finance a $1.6 million research project at Kansas University that involves creation of high-speed connections between a computer network and telecommunications system.
The project will put KU among an elite set of universities working on similar advanced technology projects, said Victor Frost, a professor and director of KU's Telecommunications and Information Sciences Laboratory.
"Our information-based society will increasingly require access to large, distributed data bases, such as library archives and nationwide data files, and computer resources, such as supercomputers," he said. "So you want fast, remote access to those through a high-speed network."
KU is participating in the Multidimensional Applications and Gigabit Internetwork Consortium. MAGIC's funding comes from the U.S. Department of Defense and industrial companies, including Sprint and Digital Equipment Corp.
MAGIC's development of a communications network will permit the simulation of driving or flying through a digital representation of real landscape created from satellite or other aerial images.
KU researchers will use experimental equipment provided by Digital Equipment to establish a campus computer network transmitting information at 1 billion bits per second, which is 100 times faster than most existing KU networks.
Frost said one goal of KU researchers will be to design computer hardware and software to connect the high-speed campus system and a next-generation, fiber-optic telecommunications network supplied by Sprint.
"The fruits of our labor should be easier and faster sharing of complex computer information, whether the computers are in the same building or on opposite ends of the country," said Bill Pfeiffer, senior vice president of Sprint's Data Group.
Frost said KU's research would first be used to enhance industrial and military productivity. It could be 10 to 15 years before the technology becomes available to home users, he said.
He said the three-year project at KU could be the catalyst for other major research activities at the university's telecommunications laboratory, which was created about 10 years ago.
Other MAGIC participants: Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center, Sioux Falls, S.D.; SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif.; Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, Berkeley, Calif.; and Minnesota Supercomputer Data Inc., Minneapolis.
Another participant in the research project is the U.S. Army's Future Battle Laboratory at Fort Leavenworth.