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Details of Grant
EPSRC Reference: GR/J78129/01
Principal Investigator: Dr A Parkes
Other Investigators:   Professor D Hutchison
Dr A Scott

Recognised Researchers:
Project Partner:
Department: Computing
Organisation: Lancaster University
Abstract: 1. To develop a content-based information representation language for multimedia information in distributed systems. 2. To use the language to enable end-user tools to interface with multimedia access, retrieval, manipulation and collaboration mechanisms using as a platform Lancasters continuous media storage server. 3. To provide input to the ODP information viewpoint and MHEG document activities. Progress: The ongoing literature survey has examined structuring techniques such as MHEG, storage representations such as MPEG, and content-based retrieval. Researchers primarily interested in distributed multimedia tend to view content in terms of document structure rather than semantics. On the other hand, researchers interested in content-based querying tend to take a database view of, or a highly mathematical approach to, content. Moreover, existing content-based multimedia schemes usually apply to stand-alone systems so that networking and storage issues are not explored. An important aspect of the research is a longitudinal evaluation study of real users. Phase one (15 months) involves the implementation of a prototype system for the study (phase two). Observations of the target end-users (students on a course Culture and Communication here at Lancaster) have begun, in order to define requirements for the design of the distributed multimedia platform. Development of the initial prototype is ongoing. Lancasters continuous media storage server (CMSS), is being used to provide distributed access to multimedia information, through the following facilities. Firstly, a distributed database server stores metadata for objects stored on CMSS, enabling objects to be categorised hierarchically. Secondly, a distributed graphical interface allows objects on CMSS to be browsed. This queries the database server to obtain information about objects on CMSS. When an object is to be retrieved or recorded, this information is used to transparently initiate a connection to the server to replay or record the object. The database server is implemented in C. To create an intuitive interface to the system, the style of a familiar file browser such as that on the Apple Macintosh has been used. Information on the database server is browsed hierarchically, with icons representing multimedia objects (the icon indicates the media type, e.g. MPEG video, 8KHz audio). Objects and folders can be opened, created and deleted directly at the interface, all necessary interaction with the database and storage servers being performed transparently. As the system is distributed, multiple copies of the interface may be running on different machines, enabling shared access to a wide range of multimedia objects. The interface is written in Tcl/Tk. Pilot evaluation studies will indicate extra tools required for content-based retrieval and manipulation of media. These will be added to the system during the latter stages of Phase 1.
Starts: 01 November 1994 Ends: 31 March 1998 Value (£): 165,331
Scheme: Standard Research
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
  ICT Networks and Distributed Systems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications: