Standards help improve digital audio and video

New ways of working drive technologies for compressing and transmitting images

By Antoinette Price

Information and communication technologies pervade our daily lives and all economic sectors. The way we access and use information has changed. We view, send and receive documents and images for work and leisure on our smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs, whose screen quality continues to improve. Additionally, virtual and augmented reality applications are being used by more industries, from broadcasting, sports, health and tourism, to manufacturing, marketing, real estate and construction. Their innovative, interactive features personalize the user’s experience and can improve safety and efficiency.

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Technology is reshaping broadcasting

Standards have helped overcome broadcasting limitations by enhancing services and quality. Digital compression Standards have improved storage and distribution of content, for example for ultra-high definition (UHD) television. A number of IEC Technical Committees (TCs) and Subcommittees (SCs) produce International Standards in this domain.

ISO/IEC JTC1/SC 29: Coding of audio, picture, multimedia and hypermedia information, a Subcommittee of ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee (JTC) 1: Information technology, has developed International Standards for coded representation of audio, picture, multimedia and hypermedia information and sets of compression and control functions for use with such information, including:

  • Audio information
  • Bi-level and Limited Bits-per-pixel Still Pictures
  • Digital Continuous-tone Still Pictures
  • Computer Graphic Images
  • Moving Pictures and Associated Audio
  • Multimedia and Hypermedia Information for Real-time Final Form Interchange
  • Audio Visual Interactive Script ware

ISO/IEC SC 29 has produced a number of key Standards used in broadcasting, through the work of its Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG), together with the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Study Group 16. Here are some widely used examples:

  • MPEG 1 or ISO/IEC 11172 series of Standards for coding moving pictures and associated audio for digital storage media for about 1,5 Mbit/s. One of its best known Standards is the MP3 audio format.
  • MPEG 2 or ISO/IEC 13818 series of Standards which describes a combination of video audio data compression methods, used for example in over-the-air digital broadcasting.
  • MPEG 4 or Part 14 of the ISO/IEC 14496 series of Standards is also widely used to store video, audio and associated data, such as subtitles, and it also allows streaming over the Internet.
  • MPEG-A or Part 13 of the ISO/IEC 23000 series of Standards focuses on the data formats used to provide an augmented reality presentation and is designed to enable the use of 2D/3D multimedia content. AR formats in sports broadcasts offer viewers more data about the games and players they follow.
live_streaming Standards have contributed to live streaming technology (Photo:
AR_app Augmented reality enhances experiences of the real world (Photo:
MP3 player at the gym MP3 allows users to listen to their music collections whenever, wherever