Meet Maarten Wijnants from Hasselt University

Last week, we had the opportunity to interview Maarten, Senior Researcher at Hasselt University.

Hi Maarten, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

I'm a Senior Researcher affiliated with the Expertise Centre for Digital Media (EDM), which is the ICT research institute of Hasselt University. I've been a member of the EDM Networked and Secure Systems research group since 2004. I received my Ph.D. in Computer Science at Hasselt University in 2010 on the topic "Service Quality Improvement and User Experience Optimization by Introducing Intelligence in the Network". I have a strong research interest in multimedia streaming, network bandwidth arbitration and web-based technologies. Specific research topics that I've been working on lately include network traffic shaping, HTTP Adaptive Streaming (i.c., MPEG-DASH), HTTP/2 performance optimization, and immersive media (spanning both 360 degree video and object-based video). I've contributed to several national and European research projects. I've been involved in MARCONI from its very inception and am therefore very pleased that the MARCONI project proposal was accepted by the European Commission and is now being implemented.


Prototyping and piloting will play a major role in MARCONI. Could you tell us more about it?

Prototyping and piloting activities are indeed of primordial importance in the MARCONI approach. Instead of opting for a "develop first, validate after" strategy, MARCONI embraces a user-driven development methodology that encompasses continuous validation by domain experts and/or end-users. Throughout the lifetime of the MARCONI project, feedback will be elicited from involved stakeholder groups via the use of low-fidelity mock-ups and, at a later stage, functional prototypes. This feedback will in turn inform the technical implementation of the MARCONI project and will hence help safeguard the alignment of developed MARCONI solutions with either the needs of the radio production market or the desires of radio listeners.

Instead of opting for a “develop first, validate after” strategy, MARCONI embraces a user-driven development methodology that encompasses continuous validation by domain experts and/or end-users.
— Maarten Wijnants

Parallel to these mock-up and prototyping efforts, which will primarily concern isolated MARCONI functionalities and features, pilots and field trials will also be organized to holistically verify the usability of the MARCONI concept and to maximize its market potential. Continuously running pilots at radio stations are anticipated, as are two large-scale field trials that will be linked to real-word events which already involve radio coverage in some way. The radio station pilots will run for prolonged periods of time (e.g. in a range of weeks or months rather than hours or days) so that evaluating the longer-term effect of adopting the MARCONI concept becomes feasible. Finally, to kick-start the MARCONI valorization and exploitation process, an open piloting phase, accessible to parties external to the project consortium, will be organised at the end of the project's lifecycle. During this open piloting period, prospective customers will be granted the opportunity to experiment with a fully functional version of the MARCONI platform. External parties participating in the open piloting phase will have the opportunity to fine-tune existing MARCONI services or even to develop and test entirely new services that are tailored to their specific needs.

What are the upcoming activities related to this?

We are currently implementing the mock-up and prototyping stage of the MARCONI validation strategy. Certain mock-ups and tentative prototypes have already been developed and are currently being evaluated by prospective users. As an example, a preliminary chatbot service has been tested by the Radio Stadtfilter listener community over a period of approximately one month; the analysis of the mustered quantitative and qualitative data about chatbot usage are currently being analyzed. At the same time, radio station piloting activities are being prepared by VRT and NPO to start validating the integral MARCONI concept under (semi-)controlled usage scenarios. As such, MARCONI will soon be put to use in a number of specific broadcast radio shows. Finally, we are compiling a list of real-world events where large-scale MARCONI field trials could be hosted. Likely candidates include VRT's "Music for Life" annual charity event and the Lowlands music festival (which is covered by NPO's 3FM radio station).

Thank you, Maarten!