New Trends in Multimedia Standards: MPEG4 and JPEG2000

By Liang, Jie | Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, Annual 1999 | Go to article overview

New Trends in Multimedia Standards: MPEG4 and JPEG2000


Liang, Jie, Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline


Introduction

Multimedia has long played an important role in the process of informing activities: learning, studying, researching, and communicating, which can be summed up in an old Chinese saying, "A picture is worth one thousand words". The ability to see, hear, and interact with the material that a client is interested in provides valuable additional dimension to a client's learning experience. With the introduction of personal computers in 1980s, CD-ROM based learning has long been an established part of the educational process and a fast developing market. However, with the fast adoption of the Internet and the continuous development in PC processor speed and capability, a promising new era in multimedia, both in informing and entertainment applications, is just beginning. With an alarming rate, much of the world's knowledge base is moving on-line. It is already a reality in many parts of the United States that school children can access a web site over a cable modem or ADSL modem at home, pulling off a detailed marketing report for his/her term paper. In the near future, he would also be able to listen to a live broadcast of a lecture on the same subject he is researching, interact with the materials through an animated graphical user interface, and watch a short clip of video on that subject, all through a single standardized file format and protocol.

Standards have long played pivotal roles in the development of multimedia equipment and contents. The need for standardization in multimedia applications is not a choice, but a necessity. To be able to widely distribute multimedia content to readers, we must be sure that the format of the files that contain the media content can be recognized and decoded correctly no matter what devices or platforms the users are using. On the other hand, standards have significantly facilitated the spread of multimedia contents. Just look at the impact of JPEG on the distribution of images, and MPEG1/MPEG2 on the distribution of video.

In recent years, responding to the development of many promising new technologies in the field of multimedia and the practical needs of many commercial applications, the Geneva-based International Standards Organization (ISO) has undertaken two new projects in the last few years: MPEG4 and JPEG2000. MPEG4 is aimed at standardizing a framework for the representation and delivery of multimedia contents such as video, audio, text, and graphics in a unified framework, while JPEG2000 is focused on developing the next-generation image compression and representation standard. It is widely expected that the introduction of these two standards will become a significant catalyst driving the future growth of the multimedia industry, and will provide better tools for all participants in the informing science areas.

In the following, we introduce in more details the new technologies in the upcoming MPEG4 and JEPG2000 standards. Section 2 covers MPEG4, and JPEG2000 is covered in Section 3. We conclude by summarizing the new technology and features, and elaborate more on their implications for multimedia applications.

The MPEG4 Video and Multimedia Standard

MPEG4 Overview

MPEG-4 is an ISO/IEC standard being developed by MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group). MPEG also developed the Emmy award winning standards MPEG-1 and MPEG-2.

MPEG-1 was an audiovisual coding standard aimed at addressing the storage and retrieval of multimedia information on a CD-ROM [1]. MPEG-2 followed closely behind MPEG1 and was a standard that addressed the broadcast TV applications. MPEG-2 was a hugely successful standard with significant acceptance in the market place with a number of other applications in addition to broadcast TV [1]. Some of the prominent applications of MPEG-2 include Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) and High Resolution Television (HDTV). Initially MPEG-3 was reserved for HDTV applications. …

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