Although MPEG-4 started as a very low-bit-rate audiovisual coding standard, it currently addresses much more than low-bit-rate media streaming. MPEG-4 is an ISO/IEC standard developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group, which is the same group that developed MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. MPEG-4 provides a standardized way to compress synthetic and natural audio and visual objects in a scene, as well as providing efficient mechanisms to compress and stream rich interactive media. For example, using this standard, wireless phones soon will be able to receive rich interactive digital video content based on MPEG-4 technology. The MPEG committee is currently working closely with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to develop standards for delivering MPEG-4 content over the Internet.
There has been growing support for MPEG-4 from several segments of the media industry. A relatively large number of startups have made MPEG-4 the heart of their business models. Additionally, established companies have committed to offering MPEG-4 solutions. In the wired Internet, proprietary streaming technologies have a dominant market presence. However, when deployments are proposed that involve new network infrastructures, or when significant levels of regulation are present, MPEG-4 is becoming the standard of choice. The wireless market is one example where the adoption of MPEG-4 can be clearly observed.
Open standards based on MPEG-4 will satisfy requirements for the complete range of Internet streaming deployments. As a committed supporter of open standards, Sun Microsystems actively participates in the MPEG and IETF standardization processes. Sun participated in defining and developing the MPEG-4 standard that includes the Java-based application engine. A programmatic system has been defined that specifies Java technology-based application programming interfaces (APIs) for interaction of Java byte code present as part of the media content with media players. By combining MPEG-4 media and safe executable code, content creators may embed complex control with their media data to intelligently manage the operation of the audiovisual scene. Content owners can take control of how the content is presented to the viewer.
Simply making the MPEG-4 standard available is not enough. The job of industry consortia and forums is to identify and recommend end-to-end solutions that support open standards. The MPEG-4 Industry Forum (M4IF) is the primary organization with this charter. As a member of the M4IF organization, Sun lends support to what is becoming widely recognized: that MPEG-4 provides the ideal platform for rich-media applications.
Sun intends to deploy MPEG-4 solutions as part of its media offering. MPEG-4 technology integration is planned for the next version of Sun's Media Central platform-an open standards-based architecture for the streaming-media market. The Sun StorEdge Media Central platform combines Sun enterprise servers and Sun StorEdge arrays. MPEG-4 solutions are also planned in future versions of Java Media Framework APIs, which support time-based media on the Java platform.