MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 are successful standards that have given rise to widely adopted commercial products, such as CD-interactive, digital audio broadcasting, and digital television. However, these standards are limited in terms of the functionalities provided by the data representation models used.
The MPEG-4 standard opens new frontiers in the way users will play with, create, reuse, access, and consume audiovisual content. The MPEG-4 object-based representation approachin which a scene is modeled as a composition of objects, both natural and synthetic, with which the user may interactis at the heart of the MPEG-4 technology. Moreover MPEG-4 behaves rather well also in terms of compression. For example, for frame-based video coding, MPEG-4 brings a competing solution from very low bit rates to very high bit rates; in fact there are already MPEG-4 visual levels from 64 kbit/s for the Simple profile at Level 0 (adopted by the Third Generation Project Partnership [3GPP] consortium for the third-generation mobile networks applications) up to 1,800 Mbit/s for the Simple Studio profile at Level 4.
The MPEG-4 vision and its associated technology provide the means to launch a great diversity of applications, with varying degrees of interactivity, notably for the emerging third-generation mobile networks, for the Internet, and even for digital radio and cable broadcasting networks. It is now up to the application developers and content authors to transform this great technology in content, products, and applications, making the MPEG-4 standard the audiovisual playground of the future.
Whatever will be the success of the MPEG-4 standard in terms of products and applications (likely determined by industrial, economic, legal, and marketing interests), the new concepts underpinning the MPEG-4 standard point in the right direction in terms of representation technology, as they rely on some basic characteristics of the humanworld relationship, brought for the first time to the audiovisual representation arena.