Communications equipment was installed at the library in February to enhance the library's use of ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) technology for teleconferences and distance learning class sessions.
Tom McQuaid, a television producer for the library's video services section, said there is nothing new about the technology that uses phone lines to send sound and pictures from one point to another. What is new, said McQuaid, is that the library can now make the point-to-point linkups with other sites without having to depend on signal relays and communication bridges.
In the past, he said the library was only able to send its audio and video signals outside the state through the N.C. Information Highway and N.C. Research and Education Network (NC REN) in the Research Triangle Park.
"Now, we can connect directly with these other sites outside North Carolina," he said. "It's a big improvement." The improved service was used for the first time in March by an ECU Human Environmental Sciences interior design class that connected students and their professor to design experts at the Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
The ECU class, led by Dr. Patricia Lindsey, discussed with the engineers the prospects of designing a make believe orbiting hotel that uses discarded fuel cylinders for rooms. The engineers who participated in the session with the students have been involved in creating such things as spaces suits and space station appliances. They offered the students advice about fabrics, floor coverings, food preparation facilities and furnishing.
The equipment that permits direct connection between ECU and other sites was obtained with distance education funding. McQuaid said the equipment speeds up the audio and video signals so that the signals can pass through copper phone lines at speeds that are comparable to those of fiber optic phone lines.
ECU News Bureau