Engineering professor receives top prize for collaborative paper

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A College of Engineering professor was recognized this spring for his work on enhancing 360-degree video virtual reality streaming at an international conference.

Dr. Jacob Chakareski, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, was honored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for a collaborative paper that was submitted to the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Communications in Paris, France.

When notified of the award through email, he thought it was a joke, but he felt very honored once he realized it was legitimate.

“I thought it was spam,” Chakareski said. “This is such a prestigious award.”

The paper, titled “Viewport-adaptive Navigable 360-Degree Video Delivery,” was named Best Paper in the Communications Software, Services and Multimedia Applications category at the conference. Chakareski collaborated on the paper with two PhD students, Xavier Corbillon and Alisa Devlic, and a faculty member, Dr. Gwendal Simon, at Telecom Bretagne in France.

The award-winning paper is on enhancing the sensation of remote virtual reality immersion via 360-degree video featuring less buffering, pauses and data rate by intelligently compressing the volume of required data. The technology can be used in multiple capacities like remote emersion in disaster relief situations.

Virtual and augmented reality, or VR/AR, are two emerging technologies of prospectively broad societal impact. Together with another emerging technology, 360-degree video, VR/AR can suspend our disbelief of being at a remote location, akin to virtual human teleportation. Presently limited to offline operation and synthetic content, and targeting gaming and entertainment, VR/AR are expected to reach their potential when deployed online and with real remote scene content, enabling novel applications in disaster relief and public safety, the environmental sciences, transportation, medicine and quality of life.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,800 students and more than 130 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.