Brussels, Mar 2006
A system that can detect, monitor and combat the illicit use of copyrighted digital media on the Internet and peer-to-peer file sharing networks is one of three winners of the 2006 IST Grand Prize, awarded to firms in France, Denmark and the Netherlands.
The AdvestiSEARCH system identifies a 'digital fingerprint' in multimedia content, which allows for the detection of full or partial copies of, for example, movies, games and music being downloaded or shared illegally. Content providers receive an alert, and can then monitor such activities in real time before employing value-added services such as mass mail outs of warning messages.
'AdvestiSEARCH primarily addresses content providers such as publishing groups, digital media companies, rights management, enforcement agencies and collective societies seeking to control the digital distribution of works protected by copyright,' say its French creators Avdestigo, who along with the two other Grand Prize winners received a check for 200,000 euro at a ceremony in Vienna on 22 March. Given that 870 million music files were illegally shared on peer-to-peer networks in one month alone in 2005, the system can certainly demonstrate the 'evident market potential' needed to claim the IST Prize.
Danish company Guardia was recognised for its three-dimensional face recognition system for security applications. The Guardia Control System generates an accurate 3D image of the head, and uses infrared cameras to record the temperature pattern of the face to within an accuracy of 0.08 degrees. While the temperature of people's faces varies over time, the heat pattern itself remains the same, giving the system an extremely high success rate for recognising individuals against images held in a database.
The system, say its makers, can be used in border controls, passports, visas and numerous other 'access control solutions' to fight identity theft and cross-border crime. Moreover, the image capture and recognition process is fully automatic and requires no input from any user, and the small size of the image files (1-2KB) makes them ideally suited to chip and RFID (radio frequency identification) technologies.
The third Grand Prize winner was Cavendish Kinetics in the Netherlands, for its 'non-volatile' computer memory device Nanomech. Non-volatile memory devices continue working when a computer is switched off, and the nano-scale mechanical cantilever design of Nanomech represents a pioneering advance over standard embedded non-volatile memory systems. 'Its programming characteristics are superior to existing non-volatile technologies in almost all aspects: performance, reliability and retention combined with a significant reduction in power consumption,' say its creators.
Further awards of 5,000 euro each were given to the remaining 17 finalists that had missed out on a Grand Prize. They represented innovative technology companies from France, Germany, Spain, the UK, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Norway and Romania.
The prize giving ceremony was held in Vienna's Hofburg, the imperial palace of the Habsburgs. Presenting the awards, Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said: 'Tonight we celebrate European enterprises that excel in information and communication technology [ICT] innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Their products can be built into those of other firms in many industries, and so enhance the competitiveness of the EU economy as a whole.'
Commissioner Reding emphasised that ICTs were responsible for 45 per cent of the growth in labour productivity in Europe between 2000 and 2004, and called for increased investment. 'We must also ensure that this investment feeds a chain of innovation and growth throughout the economy,' she added.
Austria's State Secretary for Research, Eduard Mainoni, emphasised the importance of research for delivering economic growth and prosperity, adding: 'The projects nominated for the 2006 IST prize demonstrate once again the potential of European research and more particularly of the thousands of researchers. All 20 of the products and services presented merited the coveted prize for groundbreaking innovations in the information and communications technology sector.'
The IST Prize is Europe's most distinguished prize for ICT driven products, and is sponsored by European Commission' information society technologies (IST) programme. The initiative is jointly organised by the Commission and the European Council of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering (Euro-CASE).