Spotlight on Proceedings of the IEEE: Audiovisual Communications

Special issue covers the future of multimedia

16 April 2012

This is another of a series of articles in The Institute highlighting the technical topics included in Proceedings of the IEEE in celebration of the journal’s 100th anniversary.

Today’s audiovisual communications technologies—or multimedia—wouldn’t have been possible without advances in three key areas: the broadband Internet, audio and video compression, and real-time data processing. These have enabled us to stream movies and music online, video chat, and watch television in high definition. What breakthroughs in multimedia will we see next? The April issue of Proceedings of the IEEE tackles that question.

 “Wired and broadband wireless technologies will converge in several ways…and applications will be invented by imaginative humans and well-trained machines,” writes IEEE Life Fellow Nikil Jayant in the introduction to the issue, “Scanning the Issue: Audiovisual Communications Frontiers.” The issue is divided in two parts. The first explores the key technologies behind today’s multimedia, and the second focuses on the developments of tomorrow.

proceed Photo: IEEE

The first part looks at what’s happening today and includes six papers on the key technologies behind audiovisual communications and their impact on mobile multimedia, interactive video, and other areas.

“Frontiers of Wireless and Mobile Communications” describes how wireless transmission capability has jumped from millions of bits per second to billions. It also describes how mobile service providers have changed their network infrastructures from a telecom-based model to an increasingly Internet-based one.

Another paper, “Next Generation Applications on Cellular Networks: Challenges and Solutions” covers trends in apps development, such as moving away from rigid template-based app designs to more user-centric apps that work on a variety of platforms.

“Multimedia Standards: Interfaces to Innovation” includes a history of the Moving Pictures Experts Group (better known as MPEG), a group formed by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission to set standards for audio and video compression and transmission. Upcoming multimedia standards are likely to cover, according to the article, such areas as 3-D audio and video and ways to connect real scenes with virtual environments.

Other articles deal with the evolution of video processing, camera networks, multimodal sensing, and optical networking.

Looking to the future, the second part of the issue has seven articles covering 3-D, digital holography, augmented reality, haptics, and technologies expected to advance audiovisual communications.

“FTV for 3-D Spatial Communication” covers the role free-viewpoint TV (FTV) will play in advancing 3-D video. As its name implies, with FTV, users can control the viewpoint of the video they’re watching. The paper also describes this technology’s need for a change in video processing from a pixel-based to a ray-based approach.

Digital holography, the acquisition and processing of holographic measurement data, typically used to produce a 3-D surface, is discussed in “Display Holography’s Digital Second Act.” The article describes the processes involved, including data capture, projection, and display, and examines related technologies like imaging and telepresence.

A number of health-care applications are also covered. “Communication Technologies for People with Sensory Disabilities” includes the use of signal processing, optical character recognition, text-to-speech synthesis, and cooperative audio and video processing to aid the disabled.

“Digital Pathology: Data Intensive Frontier in Medical Imaging” addresses health-care information sharing. Digital pathology involves digitizing the images of samples on glass slides. “[The article] touches upon fields familiar in other applications such as signal compression, image understanding, data mining, and low-latency broadband networking but shows how the challenge of sharing and understanding the ultrarich images in pathology stretches the capabilities in all of those otherwise well-practiced disciplines,” writes Jayant.

The issue also explores immersive communications, which involves applying such technologies as augmented reality and haptics to enable interaction among people, objects, and their environments as if they were colocated, despite being in different places.

To read the full issue, you must subscribe to the journal.

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