An immeasurable amount of multimedia information is available today in digital archives, on the Web, in broadcast data streams, and in personal and professional databases and this amount continues to grow. Yet, the value of that information depends on how easily we can manage, find, retrieve, access, and filter it.

The transition between two millennia abounds with new ways to produce, offer, filter, search, and manage digitized multimedia information. Broadband is being offered with increasing audio and video quality, using ever-improving access speeds on both fixed and mobile networks.

As a result, users are confronted with numerous content sources. Wading through these sources, and finding what you need and what you like in the vast content sea, is becoming a daunting task.
MPEG-7—developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG)—addresses this content management challenge. (This same International Organization for Standardization [ISO] committee also developed the successful standards known as MPEG-1 [1992], MPEG-2 [1995], and MPEG-4 [version 1 in 1998 and version 2 in 1999].) The recently completed ISO/IEC International Standard 15938, formally called the Multimedia Content Description Interface (but better known as MPEG-7), provides a rich set of tools for completely describing multimedia content. The standard wasn’t just designed from a content management viewpoint (classical archival information).

It includes an innovative description of the media’s content, which we can extract via content analysis and processing. MPEG-7 also isn’t aimed at any one application; rather, the elements that MPEG-7 standardizes support as broad a range of applications as possible. This is one of the key differences between MPEG-7 and other metadata standards; it aims to be generic, not targeted to a specific application or application domain.

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