Touradj Ebrahimi

A mirror for my EPFL blog also available on Blogger!
I have created a mirror of my EPFL blog on Blogger.
From now on, you can basically access the same information as in here, with the exception of some formatting, also on http://TouradjEbrahimi.blogspot.com
The main reason for creation of this mirror blog is to allow those without EPFL user name and password to be able to post their comments on my articles.
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 7:51
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DISCOVER project successful completion
The DISCOVER project is a European Commission funded, Future and Emerging Technologies research project. DISCOVER was one of our major research projects since September 2005, and has been allowing us to carry on exciting research in the emerging field of distributed video coding, and to interact with 5 other top research groups in Europe active in this field.
The partners of DISCOVER project are UPC (Spain), IST (Portugal), INRIA (France), University of Hannover (Germany), University of Brescia (Italy), and of course EPFL (Switzerland). I believe that without any doubt, one can say that DISCOVER has been the main research project in the field of distributed video coding in Europe, and among the most visible efforts in this field worldwide.
A look at the project website in the following url shows the amount of activities and achievements of this project:
http://www.discoverdvc.org/

Officially, DISCOVER project completed its activities in November 2007, by organizing an international workshop in Lisbon Portugal, about which I have already reported in one of my previous articles in this blog.
However, January 9th, 2008 was the last time project members had a chance to meet together, and with the reviewers of the project, as well as the European Commission representative, to deliver the report of its activities. This meeting took place in Lausanne, and was hosted by our research team. The photo below commemorates the last meeting of DISCOVER. In the picture you see from left to right, Prof. Joern Ostermann from University of Hannover, Prof. Fernando Pereira from IST, Dr. Christine Guillemot from INRIA, Prof. Touradj Ebrahimi from EPFL, Prof. Riccardo Leonardi from University of Brescia, and Prof. Luis Torres from UPC, all the main coordinators of the project partners.
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 5:04
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The Baloise Insurance company's visit to MMSPL
On December 18th, 2007, a delegation of The Baloise Insurance company visited our research group. Among various activities carried out in MMSPL, it seemed most logical to show the visitors our Brain-Computer-Interface (BCI) activities. There were two reasons that brought me to make this decision. First, BCI is potentially useful as a tool to aid persons with disabilities to interact with their environment. In fact, we have been carrying out various experiments in this direction on disabled subjects, with success. Second, BCI has been used in various tests to either detect the degree of fatigue or even as a tool to help improve the reaction of a driver. Both these examples are relevant to the interest of an insurance company like The Baloise. We hope this visit will give our visitors the idea of giving an incentive such as reducing the very expensive car insurance rates in Switzerland, if drivers decide to use our BCI system while driving!

The Baloise company website can be accessed through the following url (mostly in German and French, but also some English):

http://www.baloise.ch/website2/chbs580d.nsf/web/English/Start?OpenDocument
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 4:39
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Multimedia Signal Processing Group of EPFL starts its involvement in IM2
The Multimedia Signal Processing Group of EPFL, headed by Prof. Touradj Ebrahimi, IM2 Deputy Director, is now fully involved in IM2 in the context of IM2.MCA. Two Ph.D. students Mrs Francesca De Simone and Marija Uscumlic are directly involved in IM2, together with Senior Researchers Dr. Frédéric Dufaux, Dr. Michael Ansorge and Dr. Thien Ha Minh.
The team is composed of 15 researchers and is active in research and teaching in the field of multimedia signal processing. Research topics span over three highly interconnected disciplines of multimedia signal processing, namely multimedia coding, multimodal processing, analysis and interpretation, and media security. Multimedia coding includes still image, video and 3D model compression. Multimodal processing, analysis and interpretation deal with image and video analysis for interpretation, such as change detection, feature point extraction and tracking, object segmentation and tracking, compressed domain processing, metrics for quality of experience, and signal processing issues in man-machine interface for interactive communication. Media security includes development of algorithms for copyright protection, conditional access and authentication of images, video and 3D models. In addition, the group is very active in a number of international collaborations such as those within the European Commission Research Frameworks as well as MPEG and JPEG standardization efforts, where it contributes both at technical and leadership levels. More information about the activities of the group can be found at: http://mmspl.epfl.ch
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 19:09
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MMSPL Christmas+New Year 2008 Party
After more than a month of silence, here comes the first article of 2008. In fact the period between the second part of December 2007 and the first part of Jan 2008 was very busy and a lot of exciting things happened which I hope I can inform you about in the next articles. This combined with the Christmas and New Year holiday period, created a big delay between the last article in 2007 and this one. But hopefully I'll catch up with all the news that you missed in near future!

I thought I would start this year's blog by wishing you all a wonderful year, full of success, joy and health. We celebrated in our research team the new year with our traditional get together, where our members, their loved ones, and some of the closely affiliated persons to our research group come together around a dinner to enjoy a good moment. For some reason, since three years that we have started to have this traditional end of the year event, we have always gone to the same place. A restaurant called Relais de la Poste situated near Lausanne in a village called Grandvaux, and with an outstanding view of the vines, the lake, and the Alps. Also, the food is great. If ever you happen to be in Lausanne, area, I definitely recommend this restaurant.
Have a look at their website: http://www.relais-de-la-poste.ch/

You can also have a look at some of the pictures we took that evening at the following link:

http://picasaweb.google.com/Touradj.Ebrahimi/MMSPLChristmasNewYear2008Party

Happy New Year 2008 to all of you!
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 14:12
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Ulrich Hoffmann's thesis on Brain Computer Interface
On November 30th, 2007, Ulrich Hoffmann presented his PhD research in front of his family, friends, and public. This is the last step before receiving the Ph.D. degree at EPFL. The title of his thesis is "Bayesian machine learning applied in a brain-computer interface for disabled users". I had the pleasure of supervising this PhD research together with my colleague Dr. Jean-Marc Vesin. This already shows some degree of multi-disciplinarity in signal processing, when one considers that my expertise is in multimedia signal processing and that of Jean-Marc more on biomedical signal processing. But in reality this research involved much more disciplines, including close collaborations and interactions with neuroscientists at CHUV (The University Hospital of Lausanne), and rehabilitation and help to motor impaired specialists at Plein Soleil (A foundation in Lausanne hosting and taking care of people with various handicaps), not forgetting of course the FST (A foundation in Neuchatel which among others helps building or selecting devices to help handicaps).
Brain Computer Interface is among one of the more forward looking research activities in my group, and Ulrich's thesis sits in between that of his predecessor Gary Garcia, and his successor Ashkan Yazdani. Ulrich himself will stay with us for a few more months to implement a smooth transition of activities in this field to his successor, and also to help us with a few other tasks.
The PhD thesis of Ulrich can be consulted form the following url:

http://library.epfl.ch/en/theses/?nr=3924
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 12:37
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DISCOVER Demonstrator at Packet Video Workshop 2007
Tuesday, 13 November 2007, during the Packet Video Workshop 2007 in Lausanne, Switzerland, was the occasion for the coding community to see the very first real-time demonstrator of a complete distributed video coding with three parallel camera feeds. This was also possible thanks to a European funded project called DISCOVER comprising some of the best of the breed research labs in the field of compression in Europe. I was unfortunately in Japan during that day attending the JPEG meeting in Kobe (see below), but was told that the demonstration was a big success with many attendees and interested visitors. More info about DISCOVER project can be found at the following url:

http://www.discoverdvc.org

A short abstract of the demonstration can be seen at:

http://www.pv2007.com/program.php#demo

As I was absent, I asked a few pictures to be taken. You can see them at the following link:

http://picasaweb.google.com/Touradj.Ebrahimi/DiscoverDemo
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 21:26
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JPEG meeting in Kobe, Japan
The 43rd WG1 meeting (Joint Photographic Experts Group - JPEG) took place in Kobe, Japan, from November 12 to 16, 2007. Unfortunately, due to several parallel businesses, I could attend only the first two days of this meeting on Monday and Tuesday, and had to take a flight back to Switzerland. Despite the short stay, the trip was definitely worth it, and a lot happened while I was there, and continued to happen, when I left. Maybe the most important milestone achieved was the elevation of the JPEG-XR into Committee Draft. JPEG-XR is a new image compression standard, on the basis of the Microsoft's HDphoto image format, foreseen for compression of high dynamic range pictures. My team at EPFL is very active in this standardization effort, and we have been analyzing the performance of HDphoto, and continue to do so for JPEG-XR. At Kobe meeting, we presented our latest evaluation results. My personal opinion is that JPEg-XR has a big potential and could be a big player in the imaging world, if an efficient encoder making use of the human visual system is implemented and put at the disposition of public at large. This is maybe something that could happen because at Kobe meeting, there was a decision to subdivide the JPEG-XR standard in several parts, among which, one will be a reference encoder/decoder software. Unsurprizingly enough, EPFL will lead this effort. Another major activity in JPEG is the JPSearch. This is a standard to facilitate annotation, search and retrieval of images. EPFL also plays a major role in the development of this standard through various channels. Two European consortia, K-space and COST292 help us in this task. The week before the JPEG meeting, we met in Lisbon, Portugal, to prepare several inputs to this JPEG meeting. Three such inputs were prepared and presented in Kobe. A third activity in JPEG were my university has a good presence is the AIC (Advanced Image Coding). In Kobe, we made a contribution to JPEG on behalf of DISCOVER project, with an original approach based on distributed video coding, in which a codec-independent scalability can be achieved.
The press release of the JPEG meeting in Kobe can be consulted from the following url:
http://www.jpeg.org/newsrel20.html
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 19:30
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Discover Workshop and Picture Coding Symposium 2007
The Picture Coding Symposium (PCS) 2007 was organized in Lisbon, Portugal from November 7-9. The chair of this edition was Prof. Fernando Pereira from IST. I must say, and I am not the only one, that PCS 2007 has been by far the most successful and at the same time the most enjoyable PCS I ever remember. This has been definitely in large thanks to the great efforts in the organization of this event and the excellent scientific program. Bravo Fernando!
The program of PCS 2007 can be consulted from the following url:

http://www.img.lx.it.pt/pcs2007/

From the above link, you can find a lot of information about the papers presented, the panels organized, and the keynotes given, not forgetting of course the pictures of the three days.
I encourage everybody to have a look, because it is impossible to give a summary of all the excellent contributions and events organized during PCS 2007. Let me just highlight a few things I was personally involved in. An interesting panel discussion on DRM took place on the first day of the conference chaired by Prof. Ed Delp (Purdue University), with the following panelists: Prof. Inald Lagendijk (Delft University of Technology), Dr. Niels Rump (Rightscom), Prof. Ian Burnett (University of Wollongong), and me. During the second day of the conference, I had the pleasure of chairing a panel discussion on Distributed Video Coding, with the participation of Prof. Bernd Girod (Stanford), Prof. Martin Vetterli (EPFL and Berkeley), Dr. Luigi Gragotti (Imperial College) and Prof. Zixiang Xiong (Texas A&M). Unfortunately, I had to leave PCS in the evening of the second day, because of another trip to Kobe, Japan to participate at the JPEG standardization meeting there. Because of this, I missed not only the third day presentations, but also an excellent social dinner, as I was told.

The day before PCS 2007, on November 6th, the Discover project had organized an excellent and well attended workshop on Distributed Video Coding. The program of the workshop and information about the Discover project can be found at the following url:

http://www.discoverdvc.org/Workshop.html

I had the very last presentation of the workshop and as a partner of Discover workshop, I reported on the achievements of the consortium and my own research group in the area of multiview distributed video coding.

The trip to Lisbon was very enjoyable but also very busy. In fact, in addition to the PCS 2007 and Discover workshop, I was chairing the COST 292 WG7 working group meeting on November 7th, where we prepared the inputs of this consortium to JPSearch (a total of three contributions). I will report on these in a future article about the JPEG meeting in Kobe.

I have put a few pictures (thanks to Thanos Skodras, the PCS organizers, and to my mobile phone camera!) in the follwoing url in case you are interested in having a look:

http://picasaweb.google.com/Touradj.Ebrahimi/DiscoverWorkshopAndPictureCodingSymposium2007
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 20:11
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Visit of the OFCOM
On Thursday November 1st, 2007, we had a visit from the OFCOM. OFCOM is the Federal Office of Communication in Switzerland with responsibilities close to that of FCC in United States. Those interested in knowing more about OFCOM and its activities can consult the following url:

http://www.ofcom.admin.ch/index.html?lang=en

We decided to show to our visitors an original view of the communication, a bit different from what they know: Brain-Computer Interface (BCI).

We have been working in this field since 1999, as the first research team in Switzerland interested in this area.The idea of working in this field came through different observations.
On one hand, we foresaw that thanks to the Moore's law, the speed of communication between machines continues to increase. However, the speed of communication between humans using these machines will be bound to that of the interface between man-machine, and machine-man. One alternative of improving this speed is to use additional channels such as direct brain-computer interface.
On the other hand, because of our past activities, we have been interested in brain activities and perception in general, as well as interactivity. Brain-computer interface allows for new modalities of interactivity between man and machine, and helps in a better understanding of mechanisms of perception.

Interested users can also have a look at our website:

http://bci.epfl.ch
Posted by Touradj Ebrahimi at 16:31
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