Distributed Internet Content Exchange with MPEG-7 and Agent Negotiations
DICEMAN intends to provide a solution to what is probably the single biggest problem facing the archive content industry and its consumers today. Content holders have vast quantities of material which they would like to sell. Content consumers have a growing need to access and purchase this content. However, today's business model is primarily based on paper, video tapes and CDs, and the postal system, making it slow, expensive and cumbersome. In this era of digital content and global digital networks, it is time a digital solution to this problem revolutionised the industry. DICEMAN aims to do this by:
Opening up valuable databases of multimedia content by making them easier to search, using:
advanced forms of descriptions and indexing
advanced forms of user interfaces
Enabling the location of the best content for a given purpose, both locally and globally, over electronic networks, using agent-based assistants to users and provider.
Enabling the exchange and trading of multimedia content over electronic networks using standardized interfaces to electronic databases.
DICEMAN is an end-to-end chain for the indexing, storage, search and trading of digital AV content. To this end, it aims to develop a technical reference model based, where possible, on existing and emerging standards. Technical work will focus on the elements of the DICEMAN system to produce a demonstrator that effectively shows the benefits of the DICEMAN approach in selected scenarios. In a few important ancillary areas, like electronic payment and rights management, the project will not actively develop technology, but will inform itself about technologies in these areas to ensure the DICEMAN system is sufficiently generic to accommodate them. It will also establish liaison with relevant ACTS projects addressing them.
An initial requirements phase, involving all partners, will lay the basis of the project's technical work, which will implement the DICEMAN chain. The Content Provider's Application (COPA) will integrate technologies for analysing and describing content before storing it in the DICEMAN database, a specialised database which is MPEG-7 aware. The application is intended to make the work of indexing material a less laborious task and encourage consistency and completeness of descriptions.
A means to search for and retrieve content from the database will be provided for the consumer of content and a secure session protocol will be implemented. This protocol will provide mechanisms for identification and authentication of users wishing to access content databases to ensure transactions take place between trusted parties in a controllable way.
The use of agents in the DICEMAN system will be investigated to improve the usability of the system, particularly as the system scales to include simultaneous searches of multiple databases. Agents representing the content provider will attempt to interpret search requests intelligently, while agents representing content consumers will learn about user preferences and manage search results from multiple sources.
Summary of Trial
The results of DICEMAN will be demonstrated to a number of potential professional users, some of whom have already been identified and include major players in the content business. The first demonstrable solution centres around the COPA software application, which gives content holders a means to build AV databases with content which has been analysed and described in an MPEG-7 compliant way. The second is a software application that allows users to search for, retrieve and pay for content from such AV databases. Both of these usage scenarios have at their core the MPEG-7AV database, DICEMAN's implementation of which will be among the world's first. It is intended to demonstrate DICEMAN technology at the IBC in September 1999.
The strength of DICEMAN's approach stems from four main factors:
MPEG-7 AV content description
FIPA Agent technologies
DICEMAN technical reference model proposing an end-to-end approach to the trading of content
Response to MPEG-7 CFP
COPA Application allowing user-friendly description of content
An MPEG-7 Database implementation which is expected to be among the world's first
An evaluation of the use of agents in managing "information overload" in search environments
Demonstration of the DICEMAN system
DICEMAN's impact is potentially very significant. Each new development in the multimedia technology industry, MPEG-4, VRML, desktop edit suites, WWW and so on, only serves to underline the importance of the content industry. DICEMAN has the potential to revolutionise the content industry, facilitating the trading of content using electronic networks, which gives content holders access to global markets and gives content consumers access to many more sources of content than was previously the case. The project will actively influence standardisation efforts in MPEG and FIPA through concerted participation as a driving influence. If necessary, proposals will also be made to the IETF.