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MPEG-7 Alliance Pushes the Standard for Multimedia Content Description

January 08, 2002.

The Moving Picture Expert Group (MPEG), announces the launch of the MPEG-7 Alliance, a focus group of industry and academic experts. The main objective of the alliance is to act as an interface between MPEG, industry and academic organisations to promote the adoption of MPEG-7, the metadata standard for the description of audio-visual content. Based largely on XML schema, the MPEG-7 standard is designed to facilitate the archiving, searching and browsing of multimedia content on the web or any online database, and has recently achieved FDIS (final draft of international standard) status.

The MPEG-7 Alliance (MP7A), held its first official meeting on 8 December 2001 in Pattaya, Thailand. The focus of the meeting was to bring together the creators of the MPEG-7 standard and potential users in order to forge working partnerships to use, promote and develop the MPEG-7 standard. The meeting was well attended with 39 attendees from over 30 organisations, including people from organisations such as Reuters, Sony, Hitachi, Samsung, LG Electronics, IBM, Fujitsu, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Canon, Panasonic and Siemens.

MPEG-7 enables users to search for multimedia content as easily as text-only files. The key lies in providing a flexible and extensible framework for describing audio-visual data, providing description tools that are based on catalogue, semantic and structural features of the content.

Examples of the technology created by MPEG-7 working groups include visual tools to search images by colour, textural patterns, or by certain objects and shapes, such as specific logo designs. Searches by motion trajectory -- which are especially useful in remote surveillance systems -- and queries-by-humming/melody clips, and spoken sentences are also possible.

The strength of MPEG-7 lies in its open-standards technology. This ensures maximum interoperability with other leading audio-visual standards groups and consortia. The XML-based standard also creates an attractive environment for content creators, distributors, content-management vendors and start-up enterprises already familiar with metadata technologies.

Neil Day, president of MP7A, comments: "The distribution of multimedia content has grown exponentially since the advent of the Internet, digital broadcast networks and home databases. The MP7A aims to control and manage this information by promoting the adoption and support of MPEG-7 by industry and academic organisations as the definitive standard for describing multimedia content facilitating sophisticated tools for searching and indexing of this content."

Recent figures released by the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), estimate that the annual production of new information is between 1-2 exabytes, or 250MB for each man, woman and child on the earth. UCB also estimates that of this information, approximately 93% is in digital format.

Initially broadcast and digital studio industries will benefit most from the new standard, closely followed by search engine companies as their customers demand increasingly advanced search and retrieval performances for audio-visual content. Content owners and providers will also benefit greatly as using MPEG-7 will give added-value to their content and enable them provide better interactive services and experiences to their customers.

Other successful MPEG standards include:

  • MPEG-1. For the storage and retrieval of moving pictures and audio on storage media.
  • MPEG-2. For digital television, it's the timely response for the satellite broadcasting and cable television industries in their transition from analog to digital formats.
  • MPEG-4. Codes content as objects and enables those objects to be manipulated individually or collectively on an audio-visual scene.


Neil Day
Tel: +353 1 837 9654
President of MPEG-7 Alliance

Emma Read
Tel: +44 20 7959 5258

About MPEG

Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) is a working group of ISO/IEC in charge of the development of standards for coded representation of digital audio and video. Established in 1988, the group has produced MPEG-1 the standard on which such products as Video CD and MP3 are based, MPEG-2, the standard on which such products as Digital Television set top boxes and DVD are based, MPEG-4, the standard for coding multimedia objects and applicable to the fixed and mobile web and MPEG-7, the standard for description of audio and visual content. Work on the new standard MPEG-21"Multimedia Framework" was started in June 2000.

MPEG is a committee of ISO/IEC that is open to experts duly accredited by an appropriate National Standards Body.

Further information can be found on the MPEG-7 website:

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See: "Moving Picture Experts Group: MPEG-7 Standard" and "MPEG Rights Expression Language."

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