As part of a broader organisational restructure, data networking research at Swinburne University of Technology has moved from the Centre for Advanced Internet Architecture (CAIA) to the Internet For Things (I4T) Research Lab.

Although CAIA no longer exists, this website reflects CAIA's activities and outputs between March 2002 and February 2017, and is being maintained as a service to the broader data networking research community.



Today's home networks are a bit of a mystery when end-users wish to know what is `happening on the inside'.

Typical broadband-connected homes will have an IP gateway attached to an ADSL or DOCSIS modem for their link to the outside world. Communication within the home will be a mix of wired Ethernet, 802.11 WiFi and related technologies (such as HomePlug AV). The gateway, 802.11 access point (AP) and PowerlineAV interfaces may be separate devices or integrated within the home's broadband modem.

Industry efforts, such as the IETF's Homenet WG, the Home Gateway Initiative, and the UPnP Forum, are developing standards for home networks to self-configure and operate in as much of a plug-n-play manner. Yet consumer-grade devices provide limited mechanisms for end-users to monitor things like aggregate & application-specific bandwidth in/out of the home, number of active NAT sessions, current/time-specific firewall rules, number of clients currently associated with their WiFi AP, lists of DHCP-assigned internal IPv4 or IPv6 addresses, lists of ad-hoc or auto-configured internal IPv6 hosts, etc. Usually the best an end-user can hope for is cryptic text information via a web GUI.

Our premise is that a qualitative, non-technical view of the home network's current state may be created through the use of suitably animated & designed objects in a virtual 3D environment. Furthermore, that network configuration changes might be effected through an end-user's interaction with objects inside the virtual world.

Related work

The basic idea is not new. The SGI File System Navigator turned up in 1993's Jurassic Park, sporting a navigatable 3D representation of the unix file system. Examples since then include network activity visualisation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], virtual-world metaphors for interacting with computer process space [6][7][8] and virtual world collaboration systems [9][10].

Our own earlier L3DGEWorld project [5] involved creating a virtual world where multiple network states are concurrently rendered in real-time using 3D objects having visually-orthogonal attributes, and network elements are controlled using metaphors for interaction that seem intuitive and familiar to the human operators. An example of visually orthogonal might be a pyramid shape's spin rate and rate of bouncing up-and-down -- we might make spin rate and bounce rate proportional to separate network states because spin is unlikely to be mistake for bounce.

L3DGEWorld re-purposed a 3D first person shooter (FPS) game server and client (Quake III Arena) to provide a virtual representation of the network(s) being monitored to multiple clients at the same time. Using a proven FPS engine ensured efficient use of network resources between clients and server.

In 2012 it is entirely possible to run a Quake III Arena-class game client on modest, consmer-grade laptops, tablets and smartphones. It seems plausible for Figure 1 to be instantiated using a L3DGEWorld-like approach.

However, multiplayer games are no longer the only place to find 3D rendering and networking capabilities. The emergence of HTML5/WebGL standards opens up the potential for 3D virtual environments being created in-browser on modern consumer devices. Toolkits like Processing.js and Three.js already enable dynamic and interactive in-browser 3D applications. HTML5's WebSockets enable a browser-based, 3D world to be created and continuously updated based on network state fed in from elsewhere on the home network. In other words, Figure 1's client may be an HTML5-compliant web browser coupled to a custom WebSockets-based environment server. Our initial proof-of-concept HTML5 version of L3DGEWorld is called W3bworld.


[1] P. Abel, P. Gros, C. Santos, D. Loisel, and J. Paris, “Automatic construction of dynamic 3d metaphoric worlds: An application to network management,” Visual Data Exploration and Analysis VII, vol. 3960, pp. 312–323,January 2000.
[2] S. Lau, “The Spinning Cube of Potential Doom,” Communications of the ACM, vol. 47, no. 6, June 2004.
[3] W.Harrop and G.Armitage, “Intuitive Real-Time Network Monitoring Using Visually Orthogonal 3D Metaphors,” in Australian Telecommunications Networks & Applications Conference 2004, (ATNAC2004), Sydney, Australia, December 2004.
[4] W. Harrop and G. Armitage, “Real-Time Collaborative Network Monitoring and Control Using 3D Game Engines for Representation and Interaction,” in VizSEC’06 Workshop on Visualization for Computer Security, Virginia, USA, 03 November 2006, pp. 31–40. [Online]. Available:
[5] “Leveraging 3D Game Engines,” 2007. [Online]. Available:
[6] D. Chao, “Doom as an Interface for Process Management,” in SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, Seattle, Washington, March 2001.
[7] “Brutal File Manager,” January 2006. [Online]. Available:
[8] “Sun Microsystems Project Looking Glass,” February 2006. [Online]. Available:
[9] P. Frost, M. Johansson, and P. Warren, “A Computer Game Virtual Environment for Collaboration,” in GROUP ’01: Proceedings of the 2001 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work, Boulder, Colorado, USA, September 2001.
[10] B. Kot, B. Wuensche, J. Grundy, and J. Hosking, “Information Visualisation Utilising 3D Computer Game Engines Case Study: A source code comprehension tool,” in CHINZ ’05: Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI New Zealand chapter’s international conference on Computer-human interaction, Auckland, New Zealand, July 2005.

Last Updated: Monday 14-Jul-2014 09:49:37 AEST | No longer maintained. Pre-2018 was maintained and authorised by Grenville Armitage,