Hybrid Online Labs: Making Remote Laboratories Usable Under Unfavorable Bandwidth Conditions
Keywords:bandwidth, hybrid, online, remote laboratory, simulation, system identification
One of few limitations of remote laboratory technology is the fact that access and usability of such laboratories depend largely on the existence of favorable bandwidth conditions between the remote user and the system under test. This dependence is regrettable because some of the institutions likely to find remote laboratories attractive are also those most likely to have severe bandwidth limitations. Also, a typical remote laboratory will be completely unusable to remote students in the event of an outright network downtime. In this paper, we propose a hybrid online laboratory architecture that allows the automatic generation of accurate software models of remote laboratories. Such models can be hosted closer to the student and during periods of unfavorable bandwidth conditions, students can successfully interact with such models in lieu of the real hardware. We identify the challenges that need to be resolved for such a scheme to be useful and discuss the process by which suitable modeling bases were chosen. Finally we present and discuss data from a first test of the system and conclude that such a scheme holds considerable promise in changing the way remote laboratories are used and viewed.
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