Multimedia Conferencing and Communities
In this application, as illustrated in Figure 19, the terminal may be a multimedia PC (equipped with camera, microphone, and speakers), or it might also be part of a high-end videoconferencing system. In fact, it can very well be that these two kinds of terminals are communicating in the same virtual environment. Indeed, the notion of shared communication space is the main idea of this application, and the use of MPEG-4 Systems to represent the shared data is the technical choice.
FIGURE 19 Multimedia conferencing and communities. (Courtesy of Ananda Ally et al., France Telecom R&D, Oxygen project; John K. Arthur et al., Telenor, Eurescom Venus Project; and Peter Schickel, blaxxun Interactive, European IST SoNG project, respectively.)
The user connects to the conference site the same way he connects to a typical Web site, that is, through a specific address or URL. He then receives the MPEG-4 data representing the shared space. Other participants in this multimedia conference session may already be connected to each other, and therefore, the shared space contains streamed data representing them. Still, the application supports more than simple observation of the shared space: the user may send his own representation into the shared space by using, for example, audiovisual data streams captured from a camera and microphone.
The environment can be as simple as a 2D scene, or it can be a shared 3D environment with a couple of users, but it can also be a huge virtual community.