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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  2. The paper describes research challenges arising from the increasing interest in supporting more immersive and more intelligent environments that enable the next generation of seamless human and physical interactions. These environments span the gamut from augmented-physical to virtual, and are referred to hereafter as the Metaverse. We focus on challenges that constitute a natural extension of Internet of Things (IoT) research. Among the key applications of IoT has always been the integration of physical and cyber environments to endow "things" with a better contextual understanding of their surroundings, and endow human users with more seamless means of perception and control, ranging from smart home automation to industrial applications. This IoT vision was based on the premise that the number of physical "things" on the Internet will soon significantly outpace humans. Intelligent IoT further envisions a proliferation of edge intelligence with which humans will interact. The paper elaborates the research challenges that extrapolate the above trajectory. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 26, 2024
  3. Existing approaches for autonomous control of pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras use multiple stages where object detection and localization are performed separately from the control of the PTZ mechanisms. These approaches require manual labels and suffer from performance bottlenecks due to error propagation across the multi-stage flow of information. The large size of object detection neural networks also makes prior solutions infeasible for real-time deployment in resource-constrained devices. We present an end-to-end deep reinforcement learning (RL) solution called Eagle1 to train a neural network policy that directly takes images as input to control the PTZ camera. Training reinforcement learning is cumbersome in the real world due to labeling effort, runtime environment stochasticity, and fragile experimental setups. We introduce a photo-realistic simulation framework for training and evaluation of PTZ camera control policies. Eagle achieves superior camera control performance by maintaining the object of interest close to the center of captured images at high resolution and has up to 17% more tracking duration than the state-of-the-art. Eagle policies are lightweight (90x fewer parameters than Yolo5s) and can run on embedded camera platforms such as Raspberry PI (33 FPS) and Jetson Nano (38 FPS), facilitating real-time PTZ tracking for resource-constrained environments. With domain randomization, Eagle policies trained in our simulator can be transferred directly to real-world scenarios2. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 9, 2024
  4. As augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology matures, a method is desired to represent real-world persons visually and aurally in a virtual scene with high fidelity to craft an immersive and realistic user experience. Current technologies leverage camera and depth sensors to render visual representations of subjects through avatars, and microphone arrays are employed to localize and separate high-quality subject audio through beamforming. However, challenges remain in both realms. In the visual domain, avatars can only map key features (e.g., pose, expression) to a predetermined model, rendering them incapable of capturing the subjects’ full details. Alternatively, high-resolution point clouds can be utilized to represent human subjects. However, such three-dimensional data is computationally expensive to process. In the realm of audio, sound source separation requires prior knowledge of the subjects’ locations. However, it may take unacceptably long for sound source localization algorithms to provide this knowledge, which can still be error-prone, especially with moving objects. These challenges make it difficult for AR systems to produce real-time, high-fidelity representations of human subjects for applications such as AR/VR conferencing that mandate negligible system latency. We present Acuity, a real-time system capable of creating high-fidelity representations of human subjects in a virtual scene both visually and aurally. Acuity isolates subjects from high-resolution input point clouds. It reduces the processing overhead by performing background subtraction at a coarse resolution, then applying the detected bounding boxes to fine-grained point clouds. Meanwhile, Acuity leverages an audiovisual sensor fusion approach to expedite sound source separation. The estimated object location in the visual domain guides the acoustic pipeline to isolate the subjects’ voices without running sound source localization. Our results demonstrate that Acuity can isolate multiple subjects’ high-quality point clouds with a maximum latency of 70 ms and average throughput of over 25 fps, while separating audio in less than 30 ms. We provide the source code of Acuity at: https://github.com/nesl/Acuity. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 9, 2024