The museum chose Sarner for this unique project, due for completion in Autumn this year, having previously worked with them on other projects. Sarner's brief was to conceive, design and install leading-edge technology which would enable academics and businesses who are giving lectures or presentations in the Darwin Gallery to be able to simultaneously transmit these lectures to specific recipients around the world and have an interactive discussion with those not present at the Gallery. Video conferencing, which will include digital audio and visual formats, will be sent across the world using the internet as a medium to broadcast the information.
The live presentation will be sent via data lines linked between the Natural History Museum and other sites. Video has to be streamed onto the museum's network, rather than using a conventional coaxial line transmission, and this is proving quite a challenge as there are over 20 sources, some at MPEG 2 resolution, and no one product existing which can fulfil all the requirements. Ross Magri, technical director of Sarner, explains: "We have overcome the problem, by proposing a system which will preview the 20 sources whilst MPEG 2 streams are picked up by the video projectors. To do this Sarner has developed its own software and integrated it with off-the-shelf hardware."