Professor Kamal Jabbour and crew members gather in the TrackMeets.com trailer to discuss coverage of the New York State Scholastic Championships at Liverpool High School.





In April, TrackMeets.com achieved another world first with its television-quality broadcast of the Buffalo (New York) Invitational from the University of Buffalo. “We went with some trepidation to Buffalo, not knowing whether we would be able to stream video at TV quality,” Jabbour says. “Everything went well. That was the last hurdle for us. Now we can settle down, stop pushing the technology from the quality angle, and start pushing it from the content angle.” Jabbour notes that on the same day, the Trans America Athletic Conference was broadcasting its track meet live from Troy University in Alabama. “The quality they achieved and the technology they used were basically what we abandoned two-and-a-half years ago,” he says. “So we’re very comfortable that we have a two-year lead on the rest of the world. Every time that lead narrows, we blow it open again.”
      Jabbour expects two pieces of technology developed by him and his students to “revolutionize the coverage of running and track and field, not only in this country but around the world.” The first is Tandem Multimedia Simulcast (TMS), a technology so original that the editors of Discover magazine chose it as a semifinalist in the 2000 Discover Magazine Awards for Technological Innovation. “TMS is tandem in terms of the side-by-side multimedia—we have text, pictures, audio, and video,” he says. “And we have the ability to broadcast all of these simultaneously.” Viewers are presented with a multi-paned screen—the left side contains either live or archived video, as well as such information as runners’ names and times. The right side contains a window to the web, along with content from one of the company’s sponsors. Jabbour demonstrates the technology with archived footage from a meet at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. “We synchronized the starter’s gun to a stopwatch on every viewer’s desktop, so the viewers can take splits of anyone they want,” he says, clicking on a particular runner and displaying her time of 12.2 for the first 100 meters of a 200-meter race. “TV cannot give you that. As soon as the race is over, the results come automatically off the computer to everybody’s desktop. That’s TMS.”
      The second new technology is Space-Time Abstraction of Computer Information (STACI), which allows viewers to explore an event as it unfolds in time and space. At the USA National 5-kilometer road race championship last June in Columbia, South Carolina, TrackMeets.com had cameras positioned at the starting line and at strategic points along the route. A viewer could click on any one camera to see the race from that perspective, or choose to follow the race along the route at a specific pace, viewing 30-second clips from each camera. Jabbour says any event can be viewed this way. “Take World War II as an example—assuming you have footage of everything that happened during the war,” he says. “You decide you want to see everything that happened on December 5, 1942. That’s a space cross-section at that one instant in time. Or you may like to see what happened in Normandy during the entire war. That’s from the perspective of someone who was fixed in space but traveled in time in the same location. Or you can travel in both space and time and be in the shoes of a soldier of a particular infantry division who traveled through Europe during the war. STACI allows you to integrate time and space into one presentation, and allows viewers to direct what they want to watch.”
      TrackMeets.com has not sought patent protection for these technologies, relying only on trade secrecy. “My expectation was that, with the pace at which technology is changing in our field, much of this would be obsolete before a patent was issued,” Jabbour says. “And the students felt that the immediate rewards of developing technology and keeping us a year-and-a-half to two years ahead of the world were more critical than investing in patent protection.”
      Jabbour says the company has begun to explore other applications of its technologies. In November, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) asked TrackMeets.com to produce a TMS seminar for its Small Business 2000 program. “The show’s producers were so impressed that they hired us to produce all 117 of their shows in TMS so they could be offered as a distance-learning exercise for anybody wanting to learn about small businesses,” Jabbour says. Available at www.smallbusinessschool.com, the classes consist of a study guide synchronized with video, so that viewers get a transcript of the “big ideas” contained in lectures. Answers to questions in each transcript are kept in a unique database that the viewer can retain upon completing the half-hour class and use to help write a business plan. “Public television provides all the content, using programs it has produced over the last decade,” Jabbour says. “We have integrated what was essentially 10 years of very useful programming that was sitting in archives and not being used for anything.”


Continued on page 5
Back to page 1
Back to page 2
Back to page 3



Main Home Page Contents Chancellor's Message Opening Remarks
Up Front Trackmeets Residence Crater Lake
SU Band Quad Angles Campaign News University Place
Student Center Staff Circle Faculty Focus Alumni News/Notes
Cover To Cover View From The Hill


E-mail the magazine editor
E-mail the web guy
SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE
820 Comstock Ave., Rm. 308
Syracuse, NY 13244-5040