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CS alumnus Shannon Chen receives SIGMM Outstanding PhD Thesis Award

8/1/2017 5:26:12 PM August Schiess, CSL

Chien-Nan (Shannon) Chen (PhD CS ’16) has been awarded the SIGMM Outstanding PhD Thesis Award. The award will be presented at ACM Multimedia 2017 in October 2017.

Advised by CS Professor and CSL Director Klara Nahrstedt, Chen’s thesis is titled “Semantics-Aware Content Delivery Framework for 3D Tele-Immersion.” This work focuses on the advancement of 3D tele-immersion technology, which is an immersive type of virtual reality that allows full-body, multimedia interaction with people at different locations. Chen is now working at Facebook as a research scientist on the 360 media team.

Shannon Chen (PhD CS '16)
Shannon Chen (PhD CS '16)
3D tele-immersion has a multitude of applications for virtual collaborative environments, such as therapists helping patients with physical rehabilitation, full-body gaming with friends around the world, and even virtual art performances.

Though there is great potential, this technology requires extensive resources, and when used on less powerful computers, users would have to give up certain capabilities. However, Chen argues that a concept called “semantic information” can systemically define the factors that affect the tradeoffs needed for smaller computers, which, in turn, can tailor the experience for each user in order to get the optimal experience.

“As modern multimedia services embrace more comprehensive multimodality, more intense interactivity, and more flexible scalability, the underlying multimedia system becomes more and more complicated and resource-demanding,” said Chen.

He aims to exploit information about each system’s computing environment, the activity, and the user role in each 3D tele-immersion experience, so as to enhance the system’s efficiency and fit the unique computational requirements of each system.

At Facebook, Chen works on the team that implemented the social media giant’s 360 degree video streaming, and his work in semantics information facilitates effective dynamic streaming of 360 degree content to Facebook’s billion-scale users.

Chen’s work was also referenced in the production of a virtual Shakespeare play, in which hundreds of Shakespeare enthusiasts from the UK participated. Actors interacting remotely from two separated stages through a telepresence system realized the use of advanced tele-immersion in performance art envisioned by Chen in his thesis.

“A team of computer scientists and theatrics researchers from the UK, the Netherlands, and Austria collaborated to implement a virtual theatric play that referenced a 3D tele-immersion amphitheater developed in my thesis,” said Chen. “It was interesting to see my thesis work used in a unique way.”

During his time at Illinois, Chen worked in Nahrstedt’s research lab, the Multimedia Operating System and Networking (MONET) group. This is the second SIGMM Outstanding PhD Thesis Award received by a member of MONET: Wanmin Wu received the award in 2012.

“I am very grateful for not only the guidance from Professor Nahrstedt, but also for her support and the liberty she gave us on exploring our ideas,” said Chen “I am very proud of being a member of the MONET family and being able to receive our second Outstanding PhD Thesis Award.”