Multimedia technology


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Multimedia technology

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION 3 LEARNING OBJECTIVES At the end of this unit, you should be able to: 1. define the concept of multimedia, its usage and importance in society; 2. identify the various multimedia technology applications in our everyday lives; 3. name the basic elements including input and output devices, and the storage devices that exist in a multimedia computer; and 4. explain the developments, and research on multimedia technology as well as its current and future challenges. INTRODUCTIONSince entering the era of information technology during the 1990Ês, computertechnology has advanced rapidly. Currently, the use of computer has not onlyfocused on completing human tasks, in fact it has provided tremendouscontributions in the fields of education, entertainment and advertising. These arethe results of the rapid developments in multimedia technology in the computerindustry.In this unit, you will be introduced to multimedia and its environment. Thecontents of this unit are divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 is an introductionto the concept of multimedia, which we will discuss the fundamentals ofmultimedia: its purposes, functions and the types of media.The applications of multimedia technology in various industries will beexplained in chapter two so that you can gain deeper insights regardingmultimedia technology which has become a part of our everyday lives.Chapter three will provide you with the comprehension on the basic needs of amultimedia computer including input, output and storage devices that areavailable in the market.Lastly chapter four will provide insights on current multimedia developmentsand its challenges.
  2. 2. Chapter 1 Introduction to Multimedia Technology OBJECTIVES At the end of this chapter, you should be able to: 1. give a brief definition and history of multimedia 2. list four features or functions of multimedia that have made this technology very popular and 3. name the five main components of multimedia and its functions. INTRODUCTIONWelcome to Chapter 1. I hope you are excited to begin this subject - Introductionto Multimedia Technology. Multimedia is a dynamic and interesting field tostudy. Lately, the rapid development of multimedia technology has played animportant role in the fields of education, film, advertising, fashion and manyothers.In chapter 1, you will be introduced briefly to the history and the generalknowledge of multimedia technology. You will also learn about the variousfeatures and functions of multimedia that have caused it to gain popularity. Atthe end of this chapter, we will also discuss the main components and types ofmultimedia. Therefore, I hope you are ready to begin your lesson. HappyLearning.
  3. 3. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 5 1.1 DEFINITION OF MULTIMEDIAWhat is the meaning of multimedia? Generally, multimedia means the use ofvarious types of media to create a presentation or an application which can beused for the purpose of broadcasting, entertainment, education and many others.By using these various types of media, a presentation of information that usesmultimedia technology will be livelier, more dynamic and able to attract theattention of many users. Multimedia is also said to be a positive and effectivemedium of communication because text, audio, video and animation of variouscolours and patterns can be displayed simultaneously on the screen. THINK What do you understand by „multimedia‰?The word „multimedia‰ can be split into „multi‰ and „media‰. „Multi‰ meansmany; whereas „media‰ means, the tools used as the medium of communication,such as newspapers, radio and television. In brief, „multimedia‰ can be definedas many media. In other words, multimedia is the simultaneous use of data frommultiple sources of elements of media.In view of the fact that multimedia is fast gaining popularity, many parties havecome forward with their own definitions of multimedia, according to theirrespective interests, expertise, research and view points. The following are a fewdefinitions of multimedia;According to Tay VaughnÊs definition (2001, pg 4): „Multimedia is any combination of text, graphics, sound, animation and video delivered to you by computer or other electronic or digitally manipulated means.‰Whereas HofstetterÊs definition (2001) pg 2: „Multimedia is the use of computers to present and integrate text, audio and video with hyperlinks and devices which enable the users to navigate, interact, create and communicate.‰According to ShumanÊs definition (1998) pg 5: „Multimedia refers to a computer based interactive communication process that incorporates text, graphics, audio, video, and animation.‰
  4. 4. 6 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTWhile Halimah Badioze ZamanÊs definition (1996) states that: „Multimedia is acknowledged as a seamless integration of various types of media: text, numerics, graphics, images, video, animation and sound in a digital environment besides its interactive ability to enable users to obtain information in a non-linear way.‰As there are so many different definitions of multimedia, it could confuse you.The most important thing that you need to remember is that a good definition ofmultimedia should contain the following features: Multimedia is any combination of texts, graphics, animation, audio and video which is a result of computer based technology or other electronic media. Multimedia becomes interactive when the end-user is able to control the elements of media that are required, and subsequently obtains the required information in a non-linear way. 1.2 HISTORY AND CONCEPTS OF MULTIMEDIABefore you proceed further regarding multimedia, let us briefly take a look at theinteresting history of multimedia. Do you know why computers become obsoleteso quickly? It is because each year in a life of a human can be seen as at leastseven years in the life cycle of a computer and often more. They simply growolder sooner.In the context of „computer age‰, the history of multimedia dates back to the year1972, when the first video game, ATARI was launched. The response it receivedwas beyond the expectations of its users.Computers with multimedia features were introduced in the 1990Ês. Before that,there was no technology capable of providing informative multimedia at anaffordable cost. In its early days, multimedia technology was not very wellreceived by the masses especially among sceptical members of the academia.Multimedia technology was considered to be an invention gimmick of thecomputer industry. Nowadays, the view towards the importance of multimediais very different. For the past decade, this technology has been studied andexplored and now, multimedia is one of the main components of convergenttechnology. The following table shows the development stages of computertechnology.
  5. 5. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 7 Table 1.1: The Development Stages of Computer Technology Year Development 1975 The first personal computer was marketed. It had a low processing power and was used mainly for accounting and inventory. 1980 The storage capacity of the hard-disk was increased. Computers could display simple graphics and were used for statistics and forecasting. 1987 Computers were capable of displaying colours, more sophisticated graphics, animation and sound. They were used in word processing and desktop publishing. 1995 Computers at this stage were capable of integrating digital Present video, audio, animation and text in a digital environment. As a result, it increases the emphasis on communication and sharing of information through networks such as the Internet. THE CONCEPTMore than half a century ago, Vannevar Bush, director of the ÂOffice ofScientific Research and DevelopmentÊ and an advisor to the US president,Roosevelt, described a hypothetical machine that would allow users to browsethrough a media rich environment making associative links between varioustypes of information. He envisaged a device called ÂmemexÊ in which an: ÂIndividual stores his books, records and communications and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.Ê (Bush, 1945)This simple and yet interesting and innovative proposition forms thefundamental theoretical background upon which present-day interactivemultimedia systems are based. The question that immediately comes to mindis why has it taken more than half a century for BushÊs idea to be realised? Inorder to find a satisfactory answer to our question the reader must note thatfifty years ago the computer technology was in its infancy. Therefore itfollows that the history of the development of Interactive Multimedia Systemsis directly and closely linked to the history of the development of the personalcomputers.
  6. 6. 8 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT(Reference: Designing Interactive Multimedia Systems, Mohammad Dastbaz,2002: pg3) REFERENCES To know more about history of multimedia, refer to Chapter 1 of the book, „Multimedia: Concepts and Practice‰ by Stephen McGloughlin, 2001).The caption below is about how multimedia technology is used during theOlympic Games in Atlanta, United States. Olympic Fly-OverThe Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games told its convincing story aboutthe cityÊs commitment to the Centennial Olympic Games through creative use ofsight, sound, and animation. The International Olympic Organizing Committee(IOC) was able to visit each venue for the games, even though some had not yetbeen constructed, via a multimedia system the first ever used in an Olympicbid. This system, which ran on an ordinary desktop microcomputer, offeredviewers the opportunity to fly over the city, seeing virtually every building, road,and tree from a vantage point several thousand feet in the air. Rotating thetrackball pointing device to the right turned the viewerÊs line of sight to the right;rotating it further permitted the viewer to see the sights just passed.This presentation of Atlanta from the air began with a crew filming the city froman aircraft. Segments of the video footage were edited to include many differentviews of the cityÊs downtown and midtown areas, as well as its villages andlandmarks. Multimedia technology supplied the venues that had not beenconstructed. After capturing architectsÊ drawings and models in computerstorage and animating them, the creators of AtlantaÊs Olympic presentationsuperimposed these images on the areas of the city where they would beconstructed. The cityÊs Olympic appearance was real and altogether visible on aviewer controlled fly-over.This visual fly-over was only the beginning of the Atlanta CommitteeÊsmultimedia campaign. The technology gave viewers the capability to zoom in ona specific sporting venue to check out the exterior of the site and the surroundingareas. A click of the button put the viewer inside the venue, in a position to scan
  7. 7. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 9the stadium and zoom in on a particular seat or visit a certain concession. Tocomplete the illusion, the roar of the crowd and the waving of national flagsaccompanied the running, jumping, diving, and swinging of the athletes allenjoyed on a desktop computer.The Atlanta Committee gambled that drawing heavily on multimedia technologyto communicate the cityÊs commitment and capability to the world and to theInternational Olympic Committee would pay off. And it did. This innovativepresentation was highly instrumental in the IOCÊs decision to award theCentennial Games to Atlanta.Multimedia also played a special part in running the Centennial Olympic Games.Point-of-service systems around the city dispensed tickets, provided narratedmaps of the area, and showed highlights of events with complete audio andvisual information captured during the games. A network interconnecting allmultimedia kiosks more than 2,000 were stationed around the Olympic festivalarea ensured that each service point would provide the most up-to-date andcomplete information ever assembled for attendees at the Games.Such reliable and innovative communication for the athletes, the media, and thehost cityÊs many visitors made the Centennial Olympics memorable. Of course,the GamesÊ real thrill was supplied by the athletes who assembled in Atlanta.(Reference: A. Senn, 1998: 339 340). 1.3 FEATURES OF MULTIMEDIAMultimedia technology is vastly used in many fields, especially in the designingand development of web sites. Many web sites today are equipped with elementsof animation, graphics, sound effects, special video effects and interestingmusic. Figure 1.1 shown below, depicts the various features or functions ofmultimedia that have made it popular.
  8. 8. 10 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT Figure 1.1: Features of Multimedia1.3.1 InteractivityEach multimedia application involves interactivity with end-users. Interactivitycan be simple, such as a student choosing a right or wrong answer in a computer-based test; or complex, like a user flying a jet fighter in a simulated computerwarfare. In fact, when you visit a web site and press a button or an icon on it,you have done a brief interactivity.This feature has made multimedia more popular than other components of mediasuch as television. Users can take part actively in the multimedia applications andnot passively as in the conventional components of media. This is because theusers have total control over the applications.For example, a foreign student who is learning Bahasa Malaysia can determinethe phase that he wishes to review, and he can revise it as many times as hewishes. Besides that, the student can also choose the types of instructions such aslistening to intonations of words, reading words displayed on-screen, watchingan animation and doing exercises on oral skills.1.3.2 NavigationNavigation is one of the important features in the development of multimediaapplication. Navigation is closely linked to interactivity. With navigation, a useris able to use the interactive multimedia applications more effectively. If you haveheard someone say, „this interface is excellent,‰ it probably means that theapplication is easy to navigate.These easy to use navigation features of an interface not only make it easy tonavigate but also provide guidance to the users about the situation or position oftheir web pages more effectively. The correct use of the navigation tools willenable the users to control the sequence of concepts that they wish to present.The uses of navigation tools such as hyperlinks, buttons (refer to Figure 1.2),
  9. 9. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 11icons and pull-down menus will enable the user to explore and navigate fromone web page to another. Figure 1.2: Example of the use of buttons as navigation tools1.3.3 HyperlinkFilms and books are linear forms of multimedia applications. It has a beginningstage, an intermediate stage and an ending. For example, when you read thismodule „Introduction to Multimedia Technology‰, starting from Chapter 1 asshown in Figure 1.3, you are reading the module in a linear way. Figure 1.3: Linear readingEven though the linear method is normally used, it is not necessarily the best wayof learning. When we process information, our brains usually „jump‰ from oneidea to another. This is because we need to store information in the context thatwe are able to understand. We can also „jump‰ to another topic or chapter if wealready have prior knowledge about the information contained in that topic, asillustrated by Figure 1.4. Thus, it is totally reasonable that computer applicationsallow users to „jump‰ from one section to another. For example, after you haveread the introduction topic in this module, you can „jump‰ to the topic on audioby clicking on its word with the hyperlink feature.
  10. 10. 12 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT Figure 1.4: Non-Linear reading1.3.4 Easy to Understand, Easy to UseThe main objective of most multimedia applications is regarding its ease ofunderstanding and ease of use. For example, you may not comprehend certaininstructions if you only refer to the given text, but when the instructions are aidedwith pictures, animation or video clips, it is more easily understood.Features of multimedia explained earlier such as interactivity, hyperlink andnavigation, contribute towards making multimedia applications easy to use andeasy to understand. In fact, one of the main reasons why multimediaapplications are favoured by many is because of its ease of use. For example, youonly need to click on the „play‰ button to play a song or video, or „drag anddrop‰ interesting video chapters to view them. You can do all these even if youdo not have any knowledge in computer programming. In addition, users whodo not know how to use multimedia applications can always refer to the „Help‰section which contains information on its usage.
  11. 11. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 13 Figure 1.5: An example of a multimedia presentation Exercise 1.1 What is hypertext and why is it used in the interactive multimedia presentation? 1.4 TYPES OF MEDIABased on the definitions of multimedia which were discussed earlier in thischapter, it was found that, apart from interactive communication process, thereare five elements or main media in a complete multimedia system. Can you stillremember the five elements? They are text, graphics, animation, audio andvideo. Each media has its own role in the formation of an attractive and effectiveinformation presentation. These media also interact among each other in a digitalenvironment.
  12. 12. 14 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTYou need to have a better understanding of these media if you wish to develop amultimedia system or a multimedia presentation. The following are briefexplanations regarding the five main media in multimedia. We will study eachmedia in greater detail in the next four chapters. Figure 1.6: Types of media1.4.1 TextText is an important media in multimedia. It directly informs the user about theinformation that it wishes to convey. It cannot be neglected no matter howadvanced multimedia technology is. When you surf any web site on the Internet,you will notice that almost all of them contain text media.Text plays an important role in the communication of multimedia applications.The uses of text in multimedia applications tend to differ depending on its fieldsand objectives such as for education, entertainment or commerce. For example; Microsoft Encarta which is aimed at providing knowledge to the masses is made up of interfaces that are text intensive. Electronic commercial advertisements on the Internet favour graphics when compared to the use of text, which is fairly minimal.You can compare the contents of text in Microsoft Encarta and electronicadvertisements through Figure 1.7 below.
  13. 13. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 15 Figure 1.7: a) Microsoft Encarta, (b) An Electronic Advertisement on the Internet Source: (b) is widely used in the world of mass communication specifically as a mediumfor the print media such as newspapers, magazines, books, journals andadvertisements. Text is also the basic element for all multimedia applications.Without text, information that needs to be conveyed may be lost when youinterpret other media elements such as graphics, sound and video. In view of thefact that there are various cultural norms that are followed, text is the safest wayto convey messages.Currently, there are many software applications in the market for writing andediting text such as Microsoft Word, FrontPage, WordPad and others. Besidesthat, we can also create text using special effects such as Shadow or Emboss usingMacromedia Freehand, Fireworks, ResEdit and Cascading Style Sheet. Exercise 1.2 Texts can be used for conveying information but it also has some limitations. In your opinion, what are the limitations of using text in web sites?1.4.2 GraphicsPictures as visuals are more effective compared to the sole use of text. Graphicsplay an important role in multimedia presentations and is one of the popularelements used in the development of a multimedia application.In actual fact, we are used to being exposed to images and graphics throughtelevision programmes, web sites, newspapers and also advertising billboards
  14. 14. 16 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTlocated alongside roads. In other words, we use images and graphics to obtaininformation, explanations and entertainment.In general, graphics can be categorised into two main groups that is bitmap andvector. It is important for you to understand both types of graphics because itinfluences the quality, the size of the file and the time needed to display thegraphics on the computer screen. Bitmap Graphics Graphics or bitmap images are also known as image raster. Bitmap images are produced by dots arranged in specific ways in matrix form. These dots are known as pixels. These pixel images are known as bitmap images. Figure 1.8 shows an example of a graphic bitmap. Vector Graphics Vector graphics refer to any image produced by the use of specific software and computer technology. Vector graphics are made up of lines that follow the mathematical equations called vector. Figure 1.9 shows an example of a vector graphic. Figure 1.8: Enlarged Bitmap Graphic Figure 1.9: Enlarged Vector GraphicLots of graphics software are available in the market. Among the most popularand most widely used are Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, Painter 3D andMacromedia Freehand. Each graphics software has its own function and use. You can surf any websites on the Internet and are bound to come across various types of graphics and images in the websites. Take note of the Open University website (OUM) ( such as the one shown in Figure 1.10. In your opinion, how are graphic elements used in this web page.
  15. 15. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 17 Figure 1.10: OUM website Source : Adobe Systems Inc is one of the leaders in the development of powerful graphic programmes. To learn more, visit its website at AnimationAnimation plays an important role in various fields such as films,advertisements, commerce, medicine and education. A presentation will belivelier with the presence of animation. Besides that, a complex concept can bepresented more briefly and easily.From a multimedia aspect, animation is one of the elements that increase theattraction of a multimedia software or programme. In fact, animation inmultimedia began to receive more widespread attention from the massesespecially after animated movies like Mulan and Toy Soldier.In brief, animation refers to the process of adding movements to static imagesthrough various methods. Animated movements can be measured in frame persecond (fps). The higher the fps, the smoother the transition between frames.
  16. 16. 18 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTCurrently, the development of computer animation is becoming more rapid. Withcheaper computers and software, and more powerful computer systems,animation technology is becoming more sophisticated. Various methods are usedto produce computer animation, from the very simple animation to amazinglycomplex two and three dimensional animation.There are many animation software in the market that one can choose from toproduce various types of animation, be it two or three dimensional or even toproduce animation with special effects. Among them are MacromediaAuthorware, Macromedia Director and Macromedia Flash, Ray Dream 3D, 3DStudio Max, Lightwave 3D and many others. 1. You can visit any website on the Internet such as or to view how animation is used. What is your opinion on these two websites? 2. Macromedia Inc. is one of the leaders in the development of multimedia software composition. To know more details, visit its website at Exercise 1.3 Name THREE types of graphic software, and THREE types of 3D animation software, that are available in the market.1.4.4 AudioAudio or sound is one of the most effective ways of attracting the attention ofusers. Audio plays an important role in the development of multimedia whichhas been quite static all these while. The entry of audio into multimedia is one ofthe most important features that have escalated the use of multimedia tomaximum level.
  17. 17. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 19When you wish to include audio or sound in a multimedia system, there aresome important areas that require attention. Among them are the soundproductions, the storage, the sound manipulation and the display or presentationof sound. All these aspects require careful handling in order to ensure that thequality of audio in the multimedia system is of a high level.Do you know that sound used in multimedia is in digital form? Digital soundmay be recorded directly or maybe pre-recorded in an analog form and then beconverted to digital form.Sound used in multimedia applications must be in digital form.If there are specific software for text, graphics and animation, then there are alsovariety of software available in the market for audio recording or audioproduction such as the Sonic FoundryÊs Sound Forge and Macromedia SoundEditsoftware. Exercise 1.4 Give TWO uses of audio in multimedia.1.4.5 VideoWe often come across certain applications or multimedia program that includesvideo elements in its development. Video is an essential element because it cancarries meaning or information which needs to be conveyed within a short periodof time.Video has been in existence for more than 50 years. During its initial stage of use,it was only played on projectors in cinemas or televisions. Today, this scenariohas changed. Digital video can be viewed and displayed through the use ofmultimedia computers.Digital video became popular after multimedia technology was introduced anddeveloped. The element of video in multimedia has brought about tremendouschange in the method of information disseminations. Most videos are able topresent real-life situations and capable of attracting the attention and emotions ofusers.
  18. 18. 20 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTVideo that is displayed through computers must be in digital form. Video capturecard is an additional card which is required for the production of digitalvideo. This card is usually required to be purchased separately and is notavailable in your computer. Video capture card changes analog video into digitalvideo and acts as an interface between the video source and the computer.Currently, Intel Indeo and Radius Cinepak are among the most popular brands ofvideo capture cards.Adobe Premiere, Video Fusion and Ulead Media Studio Pro are among the mostsophisticated and highest quality video software that are available in the market.These software are rather costly and require a long period of time to master themfully. However, what is certain is that, these software are capable of producinghigh quality digital video. Figure 1.11 shows an example of a video clip that isavailable on the Internet. Figure 1.11: A video Clip on the Internet Source : YOUR IDEA Try to surf the website and open the video clip to view. Is it different from television? State the differences.
  19. 19. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 21 Exercise 1.5 1. You have studied the various definitions of multimedia. Choose ONE definition and state the reason WHY you have chosen the definition. 2. Explain briefly the differences between multimedia, hypermedia and hypertext. 3. Give FIVE media components that are important in multimedia and their functions. SUMMARYWe have reached the end of Chapter 1. It is hoped that you have obtained a clearpicture regarding multimedia. Before we proceed to the next chapter, do yourealise that multimedia technology has changed the way we think, work, learn,socialise and many others? Even though this technology has brought manybenefits into our everyday lives, we should be wary that this technology does nottake total control of human lives.
  20. 20. Chapter 2 Multimedia Technology Applications OBJECTIVES At the end of this chapter, you should be able to: 1. State the ways multimedia technology applies in our daily lives; and 2. Name each element and application in the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). INTRODUCTIONIn this chapter you will be introduced to the various types of multimediatechnology applications. You have learnt in chapter one that multimedia has longbeen in existence and used in our daily lives. Whether you realise it or not,multimedia has influenced and designed many aspects of our daily lives.Multimedia technology has many applications in various fields such aseducation, medicine, industrial and social. In this chapter, we will discuss severalimportant multimedia applications which have become a part of our daily lives. 2.1 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONSA few years ago, multimedia technology was considered a new technology andmost of its applications were used in education to assist in the teaching process.Currently, this scenario has changed. Technology has grown rapidly and its uses
  21. 21. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 23are increasingly widespread. Multimedia is capable of designing our thoughtsand actions and shaping how a person thinks, works, learns, socialises andothers. Followings are discussions on several major multimedia applications inour daily lives2.1.1 Video TeleconferencingVideo teleconferencing involves the transmission of video and audio in real-timethrough computer networks and this transmission can include two or moremultipoint. Examples of video teleconferencing are shown in Figure 2.1.(a) (b) Figure 2.1: Video Teleconferencing Source: (a)⁄/module7/task6.htm (b) teleconferencing is tele-consulting that broadcasts video pictures ofparticipants who are separated by locations. Each participant is usually locatedin a special room that is equipped with a table, microphone, camera, televisionand a television screen. Each participant then sits at a round table so that it caneasily be recorded by a television camera. Participants from other locations willalso be in specially equipped rooms. During the teleconferencing, other visualslike graphics, charts and other materials can be displayed as required. All theparticipants involved will be able to view the interviews or communication thattakes place among each other.Some of the advantages of video teleconferencing are: Reduces travelling cost and saves time; Increases productivity and improves the quality of teaching and learning; Make quick and spontaneous decisions; Increases satisfaction in teaching or at the workplace; and Facilitates interaction and fosters closer relationships between the lecturers and the students especially in distance learning programmes.
  22. 22. 24 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTApart from the advantages stated above, video teleconferencing technology hasalso successfully found solutions for tackling several of its disadvantages such asthose listed in table 2.1 Table 2.1: Disadvantages of Video Teleconferencing and its Solutions Disadvantages Solution Video requires more bandwidth With the use of compression and than audio. Therefore, Video decompression, videos are more teleconferencing is expensive than sophisticated. normal telephone charges. Video teleconferencing requires a By using optimum multimedia network to support the constant network. delay because audio and video are asynchronous mediums, and both of these media need to be synchronised with one another. Video teleconferencing requires a By using fibre optic networks or the network for the preparation of the ISDN (Integrated Services Digital short delay because it is a real-time Network) application. If there is a long delay, the quality of video teleconferencing will decrease. Exercise 2.1 In your opinion, what are the disadvantages of video teleconferencing compared to face-to-face communication?2.1.2 Multimedia Store and Forward MailThe applications in multimedia store and forward mail allow users to generate,modify and receive documents that contain multimedia.Nowadays, people are able to write electronic mails that not only contain text butalso images, audio, video and hypermedia links.
  23. 23. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 25Currently, there are many free electronic mail service providers on the Internetsuch as Yahoo, Hotmail, Mailcity and others. All these service providers enablethe sending of multimedia mail containing pictures, songs and animation.However, most of these service providers have specific conditions. For example,Hotmail has determined that the size of mail to be sent through it must not bemore than 1MB. This is to prevent network congestion and to reduce delay.Figure 2.2 below, depicts an example of a multimedia mail which is commonlyused. Besides text, it can also send voice mail. Figure 2.2: Multimedia Mail Source: Reference SourceHas it ever crossed your mind that multimedia can be used as a reference sourcefor obtaining the latest information? In actual fact, we can use multimedia toobtain information that we require. Among them are encyclopaedias, directories,electronic books and dictionaries.In 1990, which was the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century, two ofthe first multimedia encyclopaedias emerged. Namely Comptons InteractiveEncyclopaedia and its competitor, Groliers Multimedia Encyclopaedia. Otherearly popular encyclopaedias titles were the Canadian Encyclopaedia, Guinness
  24. 24. 26 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTBook of Records, Colliers and HutchinsonÊs Encyclopaedia (StephenMcGloughlin, 2001).In the early years, encyclopaedias were merely text elements. Gradually, otherimportant elements such as animation, audio and video were integrated. Thus, amethod of disseminating information based on the hypermedia concept wasborn. An example of this is, Microsoft Encarta. Microsoft Encarta from MicrosoftCorporation was first marketed in 1993 and was an interactive encyclopaediawhich could be played on Windows-based computers.The Electronic Yellow Pages which is directory-based and PC Magazine whichis electronic book-based are among other multimedia reference sources which arecurrently available. THINK What do you understand by Electronic Yellow Pages? Try browsing web sites on the Internet to obtain additional information about Electronic Yellow Pages. Compare the information you obtained with those of your friends.2.1.4 Edutainment and InfotainmentAll of you are definitely familiar with the word entertainment but edutainmentand infotainment are most probably words that are foreign to some students.Before the development of multimedia, we have never heard of these words butnowadays we often hear them both. Edutainment The inclusion of multimedia in the field of education gave birth to edutainment. It is a new learning approach which combines education and entertainment. Hence, it has led to the emergence of many multimedia applications based on edutainment such as MathBlaster and Fun Maths with Arti. These software teach children Mathematics using fun elements. Multimedia-based compact-discs or web pages are effectively used to present educational contents with relative ease. Infotainment Infotainment on the other hand, is a combination of information and entertainment. Currently there are many service providers under this category such as Prodigy, America Online, Microsoft, IBM and CompuServe.
  25. 25. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 27Figure 2.3 below shows edutainment and infotainment applications that usemultimedia technology. Figure 2.3: (a) Edutainment and (b) Infotainment2.1.5 Advertising and PurchasingAdvertising on the Internet is not a new phenomenon. Most of the web sitesvisited have many advertisements with multimedia features with the objective ofmarketing merchandise or offering services online. Normally, users can use thisapplication at home or at kiosk centres.These two categories of advertising and purchasing involve two-way interaction.This application benefits both parties. For example: Users will use this application to obtain information on products or services that they are interested in. They can also ask for public opinion about the products through online forums while the advertisers can use this application to inform users about the products and services being offered. Users have the opportunity to ask the advertisers questions while the advertisers also have the opportunity to answer the questions more specifically and clearly. Both parties can use the application for transactions involving ordering and payment. An example of this application is shown in Figure 2.4.
  26. 26. 28 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT Figure 2.4: Advertising and Purchasing Source: NEWS DELIVERY, BROADCASTING AND ADVERTISINGBroadcasting and advertising has been one of the main beneficiaries of interactivemultimedia systems. As early as 1992 Liebman recognized that there is increasingdemand for broadcasting and advertising agencies to move towards the use ofinteractive multimedia. Intelligent electronic catalogues, disk-based advertising,desktop presentation systems and the MM advertising approach are among theareas that have benefited from the emergence of multimedia.The launch of interactive TV and the ever-increasing capability of the WWW(including Web TV and Web casting) to present media rich information haveadded new interesting and exciting dimensions to traditional approaches. Eventraditional means of delivering news like newspapers have undergone majorchanges trying to embrace the new technology.Browsing through the Web one could find thousands of newspapers in tens ofdifferent languages bringing up-to-date news to millions of Web surfers. Theinteractive nature of the Web also allows for news providers to enrich theirtraditional mainly text-based content by adding live reports and video clips aswell as offering their customers sophisticated search facilities and ÂpushÊtechnology to send users specific news on demand.
  27. 27. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 29Even traditional news broadcasting corporations like the BBC and CNN areallocating enormous budgets in developing Web-based news delivery andInternet channel that offers 24 hours a day, seven days a week news to userswhen and where they required it.(References : Designing Interactive Multimedia Systems, Mohammad Dastbaz,2002: ms 14 - 15)2.1.6 Digital LibraryDo you know that nowadays, you no longer need to go to the library to borrowbooks? This is because of the existence of a digital library on the Internet.With the existence of the digital or virtual library, students no longer need to goto libraries but can search and obtain information that they require through theInternet. Computers can access distant libraries for the contents of theirservices and other available resources. Information services are available to usersfrom various libraries all around the world.In Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) has set up a UKM HospitalLibrary which is the first digital and most sophisticated medical library in thisregion (Health Ministry Bulletin, April 2001). This library offers electronicmaterials encompassing books, journals and theses. Researchers can borrow,return and book items completely online. This library is a one-stop search whichallows users to search for books and journals electronically and it is supported bya client/server web-based and multimedia-based integrated system.Presently, there are more than 10,000 libraries reachable through the Internet. Forexample; National libraries those are available worldwide for example; the National Congress Library of the United States of America, the National Library of Canada (, and the National Library of Australia ( The Library of Britain which is popularly known as the British Library is one of the oldest and most famous libraries in the world. This library can be reached at are some features which allow users easy access to the digital library.Among them are:
  28. 28. 30 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT(a) National and international telephone networks with speed and bandwidth which can transfer big and complex text files and graphic digital images.(b) Protocol and standards which facilitates ease of connection among computers and from one database to another.(c) Automated digital instruments such as scanners and faxes which can transfer data and information in real-time.Figure 2.5 shows the digital library which is available on the OUM web site. Figure 2.5: OUM Digital Library Source: Browse the OUM web site at the address stated above. Try to get information on books that you are interested in. List the information that you have successfully obtained.2.1.7 Education and Health ApplicationsDevelopment in multimedia technology has brought about tremendous changesin the fields of education and health. Multimedia computers are used as support
  29. 29. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 31tools in education and health. Figure 2.6 shows the flow of multimediaapplication in the field of education and health. Figure 2.6: Multimedia application flow in the fields of education and healthIn this modern world, traditional education such as classroom lectures might notbe able to fulfil the current needs of the students and not to mention its expensivecost. Distance learning or online learning is becoming more popular due to itsflexibility and ease of operation. Although, most of the online education todayonly uses text media, it may change to complete multimedia in the near future.Therefore, the quality of learning can be enhanced with learning materialsequipped with media such as text, video, audio and animation.In reality, school teachers in Malaysia have begun to use interactive multimediain teaching. Many multimedia development companies are also utilising theseopportunities by developing their multimedia training products. They are alsopersuading parents to purchase multimedia computers for their children. Inother words, multimedia training has become the most successful commercialmultimedia application.Health care is receiving more attention throughout the world including Malaysia.Multimedia application is important in health care because information shownusing various media such as pictures, video and audio will definitely make itmore meaningful. Realising its importance, the Malaysian Government hasintroduced tele-medicine as one of Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) mainapplications. Its objective is to enable the public to receive online information andadvice pertaining to healthcare.
  30. 30. 32 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTMultimedia technology has been successfully used in the health care industry inthe United States of America such as in radiology, pathology, cardiology, patientrecords information services from medical libraries and education of hospitalstaff. REFERENCES To improve your knowledge on multimedia technological application in various fields, refer to the book, “Multimedia Literacy” by Fred T. Hofstetter, 2001.2.1.8 Other ApplicationsApart from the applications already mentioned above, there are many othermultimedia applications which have become a part our daily lives. Can youthink of such applications? Among them are video-on-demand (VOD), kiosks,hybrid applications, applications for recreation, communication, commerce,training and others.Figure 2.7 shows an example of video-on-demand (VOD) which is availableoverseas. Figure 2.7: Video-on-Demand (VOD) Source:
  31. 31. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 33 You can browse the web site to view the video-on-demand (VOD) application. What information did you get? Exercise 2.2 1. State TWO advantages of digital library. 2. Give TWO uses of multimedia technology in the health care industry.You are encouraged to take a break before continuing the lesson. 2.2 MULTIMEDIA SUPER CORRIDOR (MSC)The Multimedia Super Corridor project (MSC) was announced by Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir during the official opening of Multimedia Asia Conference andExhibition on 1st August 1996. This announcement indirectly showed thatMalaysia, at that point of time, was heading towards the multimedia world andcurrently, we are already in this sophisticated era of information.The Multimedia Super Corridor is a 15km wide by 50km long corridor. It startsfrom the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) in the north, to the Kuala LumpurInternational Airport (KLIA) in the south. The two new intelligent cities that arecovered in the MSC plan are Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. If you are interested to know more about the location of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), browse the Multimedia Super Corridor web site at
  32. 32. 34 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTPutrajaya is the head office of the Malaysian Government and is known as theIntelligent City. This Intelligent City is equipped with all thesophisticated technological facilities. The government strives to modernisethe countryÊs administration in order to achieve the status of an electronicgovernment.Cyberjaya is the investment site and creative centre for some of the giantcompanies which are directly involved in innovative multimedia and havesuccessfully formed their own creative centres. Therefore, these companies usesophisticated multimedia technology to produce and supply their products andservices to the world market. On top of that, Cyberjaya is also the site foruniversities, intelligent homes and smart schools.The Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) was formed to manage andmarket the Multimedia Super Corridor. Its main mission is to create the bestenvironment in the world for private companies to lead and develop the useof multimedia. MDC also acts as a One-Stop Center to fulfill the 10 Bills ofGuarantee which is specifically aimed at speeding up the processing of visas,licenses and permits. If you are curious to learn more about MDC, browse the Multimedia Development Corporation web site at 2.3 APPLICATION FOR MSC STATUSThe MSC status will be accorded to product-development or multimedia serviceand information technology companies. A company needs to fulfill certaincriteria in order to be eligible for the MSC status which then will be allowed toreceive the MSC incentives. The required criteria are: Be provider or heavy user of multimedia products and services. Employs a large number of knowledge workers. States how it is going to transfer its technology and expertise to Malaysia and subsequently contributes to the development and economy of Malaysia.
  33. 33. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 35 YOUR IDEA Name 3 overseas MSC companies that have a subsidiary or a research center in Cyberjaya. What are the services or research conducted by these companies?2.4 MSC FLAGSHIP APPLICATIONSWhen the Multimedia Super Corridor was launched, seven major applicationswere identified. Figure 2.8: MSC Flagship Applications2.4.1 Electronic GovernmentThe Malaysian government introduced the electronic government in its effort tobe more efficient and to provide faster services to its people. For example, thepublic can renew driving licenses or pay their bills without having to leave theirhomes or by just going to the nearest kiosk.The electronic government was introduced to fulfill the following objectives: to offer efficient and high quality online services and administration to the public. to increase the involvement of the public in governmental issues.
  34. 34. 36 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT to strengthen the protection and security of data. to improve the internal processes of the government so that quality of service can be improved, cost reduced and productivity increased. You can visit web sites such as,, to view examples of an electronic government. List the types of electronic government services provided.An example of an electronic government is shown in Figure 2.9 where the publiccan deal with the government through this site. Figure 2.9: Example of an Electronic Government in Malaysia Source: Public Services Department,
  35. 35. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 372.4.2 Multipurpose CardThis electronic card can store a lot of information and is used specifically fortransactions or for information retrieval. This multipurpose card acts as anidentity card, driving license, health card, electronic cash card and ATM card forany Malaysian citizen who owns it.Figure 2.10 shows an example of the multipurpose card. It helps the publicespecially when dealing with government agencies and private companies. Thismultipurpose card also contains sophisticated safety features to curb fraud. Figure 2.10: Multipurpose Card Source: Smart SchoolsSmart schools are schools equipped with computers and multimedia equipmentsfor new approaches to learning. Currently, these smart schools use the newschool curriculum for Bahasa Melayu, English, Mathematics and Science.The objectives of smart schools are to improve the quality of education, training, the organisation of schools and students presentations. It is also aimed ataccelerating the development of critical thinking, learning and creativity.An example of a smart school, Seri Bintang in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur is shown inFigure 2.11
  36. 36. 38 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT Figure 2.11: Smart School Source: Tele-medicineThe use of technology and multimedia equipments on a broader aspect is a newapproach in healthcare. The public can enjoy more healthcare services throughthe use of this tele-medicine system. The public or patients can access thehealthcare system directly or via tele-consulting with medical doctors atcommunity centres or at home.The objectives of tele-medicine are: to provide medical services for the benefits of the rural population reduce delivery time save costs to be the regional centre for the development of tele-medicineDuring the 7th Malaysian Plan, tele-medicine was implemented in 42 healthcentres and 42 tele-consulting centres which are mostly located in rural areas.Figure 2.12 below shows an example of tele-medicine.
  37. 37. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 39 Figure 2.12: Tele-medicine Source: Satellite Networks and Architectures Branch Research and Development ClusterThe main objective of the government is to set up the best research andmultimedia development centre in the world. Therefore, universities, colleges,private companies and research institutes are encouraged to work together todevelop multimedia technology. A special grant has been prepared and would begranted to eligible institutes and companies. For example, computer engineersfrom Malaysia can collaborate with renowned scientists to create IT applicationsand technology to benefit the citizens of the world.In general, the research and development cluster (R&D Cluster) is aimed atencouraging the transfer of multimedia technology to Malaysia, motivate thebeginning of local sophisticated technology and increase local development andresearch activities so that more local products and services, that are morecompetitive, can be developed.2.4.6 World Wide Manufacturing WebsAll companies and organisations are invited to design and generate newproducts and multimedia services. World Wide Manufacturing Webs refers to agroup of manufacturing industries where these companies can receive andexchange their technological expertise in the fields of engineering, delivery,marketing, research and design.
  38. 38. 40 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTAny international companies can work together with local companies toundertake research and invent competitive multimedia products to be marketedto the world. In a nutshell, the objective of this network is to focus on researchand development, product-design, engineering support, distribution logistics andcontrol centre manufacturing.2.4.7 Borderless Marketing CentersCompanies that are located within the Multimedia Super Corridor are able tosupply high quality products at a reasonably low cost so that these products cancompete in the global market. Such products can be marketed through electronic-commerce, tele-marketing and digital broadcasting. A company that uses IT and multimedia application would be able tocommunicate and interact with its customers globally without being restricted bygeographical factors and time. Moreover, the company can also obtain morebusiness opportunities by just sending out product information and conductingits marketing electronically.With this main flagship application, Malaysians from all walks of life would beable to benefit greatly, be it students, teachers, community leaders, businessmenor politicians. They would find that multimedia technology and equipment veryuseful in their daily lives.The objectives can be summarised as: To make Malaysia as the information centre for products and services To increase the opportunities for local companies to sell their products in the global market To strengthen the position of Malaysians in the electronic trade which is growing rapidly REFERENCES Apart from the web sites stated, you can also refer to the Information Technology, Media and Society Module Open University Malaysia for further information regarding the MSC.
  39. 39. CHAPTER 2 MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS 41 Exercise 2.3 1. Kiosk is one of the multimedia technology applications that are frequently found. Give a brief explanation about Kiosk. 2. Let say that you are going for a vacation but do not know of any travel agencies in Malaysia. You can find it on the Internet. Try to list THREE travel agencies in Malaysia that have advertised on the Internet. 3. State the 10 Bills of Guarantee that were prepared by the government to attract companies to operate in the MSC. 4. State THREE main objectives why the electronic government was introduced. SUMMARYDid you understand the contents of this chapter? This chapter explained themain multimedia applications and how the use of multimedia technologyhas influenced our daily life. Additionally, this chapter also discussed theMultimedia Super Corridor (MSC). If the MSC is successful in meeting itsobjectives, then the dream of vision 2020 will be successfully realized.
  40. 40. Chapter 3 Multimedia Hardware OBJECTIVES At the end of this chapter, you should be able to: 1. state the importance of standardisation in the development of multimedia presentations; 2. name the basic hardware including the input and output devices and the existing storage mediums in a multimedia personal computer; and 3. list the specifications of multimedia computer that you wish to buy based on price, system performance and needs. INTRODUCTIONDo you know why it is important for us to know the hardware required for amultimedia computer system? This is because without the hardware, we will notbe able to enjoy interesting videos, animated graphics, texts or colourful picturesand etc. Besides that, knowledge about computer hardware is essential to enableus to work more confidently with multimedia elements. Therefore, this chapterwill explain about the basic hardware including input, output and storagedevices required by a multimedia computer. 3.1 MULTIMEDIA COMPUTER SYSTEM STANDARDSDo you know that standardisation is vital in a computer system? Perhaps youmay be wondering why this is necessary. Let us imagine that you area multimedia software developer and you are faced with the problem of how to
  41. 41. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 43determine a programs specifications that is being developed for the currentmarket. If there is standardisation for the multimedia computer system, then forsure your task will be much easier to be accomplished.To solve the above problem, in 1991, the Multimedia Marketing Councilannounced a standard of uniformity or guidelines for a personal computersystem. This standard was known as the Multimedia Personal Computer (MPC)specifications and targeted at personal computers operating on the Windowsoperating system. It was later known as Level l Specification. Personal computerhardware manufacturers who fulfilled the required specifications prescribed byMPC were allowed to use the MPC logo.In 1993, MPC Level 2 was introduced and two years later, in 1995, MPC Level 3was announced. This MPC Standards emphasised on speed and the systemscapacity, quality of the colour and resolution of the monitor, the speed of the CD-ROM and also the audio and video cards being used.The standard specifications became the main reference to avoid confusionamong manufacturers of hardware, software and also consumers. The followingdepicts a few minimum specification differences at each level. Table 3.1: Minimum Specifications of MPC Level 1, 2 and 3 Components MPC Level 1 MPC Level 2 MPC Level 3 Processor 386SX 16MHz 486SX 25 MHz Pentium 75 MHz Main memory 2 MB 4MB - 8MB 8MB - 16MB Hard-disk 30MB 160MB 540MB 150 Kbps rate of 300 Kbps rate of 600 Kbps rate of Hard-disk driver data transfer data transfer data transfer Audio 8 bit digital audio 640 X 480 pixel 16 bit quality CD 640 X 480 pixel 640 X 480 pixel 640 X 480 pixel Video display 6 colours 65,536 colours 16 million colours Exercise 3.1 In your opinion, why is uniformity or standardisation required in a personal computer system?
  42. 42. 44 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT3.2 BASIC HARDWARE OF A MULTIMEDIA COMPUTER SYSTEMDuring the 1980s, computers comprised of a few basic components or hardware,which were the central processing unit (CPU), input device such as the keyboardand mouse, and output device such as the monitor and printer. Since multimediatechnology was introduced a few years ago, computer hardware that displaymultimedia characteristics, have increased. Among the hardware that emergedafter the introduction of multimedia technology were the compact disc read-only-memory (CD-ROM), sound card, speakers and video card.The rapid development of multimedia technology has pushed multimediahardware to be faster and more sophisticated. For example, in the past we onlyneed 4MB of RAM (Random Access Memory) for a multimedia system but nowwe need at least 64MB for a multimedia computer system. It is the same withother multimedia equipment. Just imagine if you were to use a Level 1multimedia computer for a multimedia display such as watching MPEG (MotionPicture Experts Group) films, this system will definitely not work. Figure 3.1: Multimedia computerThe following contain brief discussions on several basic hardware that arerequired in a multimedia computer system. Further information about thishardware is available in the Basic Concepts of Information Technology Module,Open University Malaysia.
  43. 43. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 45 Figure 3.2: Basic Hardware of a Multimedia Computer System REFERENCES If you wish to increase your knowledge regarding the central processing unit, input, output and storage devices, you can refer to Unit 1: Chapter 2, 3 and 4 in the Basic Concepts of Information Technology Module, Open University Malaysia.3.2.1 MicroprocessorThe microprocessor is the most important hardware in a multimedia computersystem. It is the "heart" of a multimedia computer. Without it, all data processingcannot be done and there would not be an output display. As you know, thecurrent file size of a multimedia computer can be very large, to the extent ofreaching hundreds of megabytes. This situation requires a fast and effectiveprocessor for multimedia data so that users do not have to wait long for theoutput display.The need for high capacity processor is more apparent nowadays as mostmultimedia software today are more orientated towards graphics and video thatrequire a powerful high speed processor. The increasingly powerfulmicroprocessor will enable you to view video displays, listen to MP3 songs andto play three dimensional video games on the computer. Figure 3.3 (a) and (b)shows the Intel and Motorola microprocessors.
  44. 44. 46 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT Figure 3.3: (a) Intel chip and (b) Motorola chip Source: (a) (b) Intel is the main manufacturer of microprocessors. To know about this company, visit its website at Main MemoryThe size of the main memory is one of the significant factors that determine thepotential of a computer. The higher the size of the main memory, the bigger thecapacity of the computer. The size of the main memory also affects the speed ofthe system and the capacity of the computer system to operate more than onetask simultaneously.The main memory is usually measured in megabyte (MB). Multimediaapplications require a high main memory. Therefore, 16MB of main memory isconsidered as the minimum level, while 32MB, 64MB, 128MB and 256MB RAMare encouraged.3.2.3 Compact Disk-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM)CD-ROM (Compact Disk Read-Only-Memory) is the basic hardware of amultimedia computer system. Compact disc technology has successfullyincreased the capacity of the computer for storing and retrieving data. Not toolong ago, floppy-disk was the main medium for the distribution of mediasoftware; now this has been replaced by the CD-ROM.
  45. 45. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 47CD-ROMs main advantage, besides its speed, is its ability to store more data.Usually a CD-ROM can store 650 megabytes of data on its single side. This makesit the main choice for software developing companies because of its ability totransfer a big amount of video, audio, graphics and animation data into theirsoftware. For example, the majority of multimedia files such as animation, audioand video exceed 3MB and thus, the 1.44MB floppy-disk are not capable ofstoring such data. Figure 3.4: ATAPI CD-ROM Source: e/MMSA20600.jpgThe CD-ROM drive is also measured in terms of speed. The rotational speed isimportant to determine the speed of the data being transferred from disk to thecomputer system.The speed of the CD-ROM drive is measured in "X" unit. An "X" (1X) means thespeed of data transfer is 150KB per second which is the basic speed of a CD-ROMdrive. CD-ROM drives with this basic speed are also known as Single Speed. Thesubsequent technology was known as Double Speed. CD-ROM drives at thisstage were able to transfer data at 300KB per second which was twice the speedof the basic CD-ROM drive. Today, the latest CD-ROM drive is 56X and is able totransfer data at 8.4MB per second. This is one of the main reasons why theinstallation of programs, especially multimedia software can be done quicklytoday. 1X 150KB per second 2X 300KB per second Figure 3.5: Calculations of CD-ROM speed 56X 8.4MB per second CD TECHNOLOGYCD Technology has advanced beyond read only and now there are CD read,write and re-write device. There are different CD standards available whichrelate to the type of data that could be recorded on the CD. These are: Red Bookused for audio CDs as well as data CDs, Orange Book format which is a formatrecordable CDs and White Book a format for video CDs. CD devices are often
  46. 46. 48 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTreferred to as either single or multi session. A session on a CD includes a lead-inarea, a program area (data or audio tracks) and a lead-out area therefore a multisession disk is one, which has multiple sessions on one disk. Each session has itsown lead-in, content and lead-out area, and is linked with other sessions.(Source: Designing Interactive Multimedia Systems, Mohammad Dastbaz,2002:pg 46)3.2.4 Digital Versatile Disk (DVD)Digital Versatile Disk or DVD is relatively new and its format still evolving. Inthe beginning it was known as Digital Video Disk. However, since its technologywas not just focused on video but was more versatile and capable of storing datain various form, it was later known as Digital Versatile Disk.DVD drive was introduced in 1996 and started to become popular at the end of1997. DVD technology was said to be the successor of the CD-ROM technology. ADVD drive can store 4.7 gigabyte of data on a single surface of a DVD disk, whichis seven times the capacity of a CD. Moreover, many DVD drives can store dataon both sides of a DVD disk which doubles its storage capacity. In addition, thetransfer speed of a DVD drive is much faster than a CD-ROM drive.3.2.5 Video Capture CardIf your computer does not have a video capture card, you will not be able towatch videos on your computer. This is because the video data stored in a drivecannot be converted to video signals which are sent through the cable to themonitor. Video Capture Card is the hardware used to support multimedia applications especially video and graphic displays.There are two important issues which you need to consider pertaining to VideoCapture Card which are resolution or colour, and memory. Today, most VideoCapture card can display 800 X 600 pixels of resolution. There are also videocapture card that can display 1024 X 768 pixel and 1152 X 1024 pixels ofresolution.The colour display of video capture card is influenced by bits. The higher the bit,the more colour can be displayed. For example, a 24-bit video capture card can
  47. 47. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 49display 16.7 million types of colour whereas an 8-bit video capture card candisplay 256 types of colour only.The memory in the video capture card is used to keep video data which has beenprocessed by the microprocessor. It aims to ensure the smooth display of thevideo or graphics on the screen. After the video data has been processed by themicroprocessor, the data would be sent via the bus before reaching the videocapture card. Here, the data will be converted into video signals and is kept inmemory before it is displayed on the monitor screen. The larger the memory ofthe video capture card, the better the quality of the video or graphics displayed.Technology is progressing rapidly. Now, there is a video capture card which isknown as the Accelerated Graphic Port (AGP) that can display videos or graphicsmore effectively and at a very high speed. The memory of this card is currently128MB. This AGP card is suitable for three dimensional (3D) video games.3.2.6 Sound Card and SpeakersIf you wish to listen to music or songs on a multimedia computer, your computermust have a sound card and speakers.High quality sound cards enable your computer to produce various interestingsounds for your computer games software. One of the most important aspects ofa sound card is the bit rate. In the market currently, there are 8-bit, 16-bit and 24-bit sound cards. A 24-bit sound card can produce higher quality sound comparedto an 8-bit sound card because more audio information can be sent through it.There are many different types of sound cards with differentspecifications currently available in the market. Among the companies that arewell known for quality sound cards are SoundBlaster, Audigy and Creative.Figure 3.6 (a) below shows an example of a PCI sound card. Figure 3.6: (a) Sound Card (b) Speakers Source: (a) (b)
  48. 48. 50 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTSpeakers used in a multimedia computer are more or less the same as otherspeakers. Figure 3.6 (b) shows an example of speakers normally found in themarket. Companies producing well known speakers are Klipsch and Altec-Lansing.The main function of speakers is to produce sounds such as music, voice andothers.Users will normally choose speakers based on their individual needs andtastes. If you only wish to listen to sounds or music then normal speakers aresufficient. However, to enjoy better quality sound, speakers that are equippedwith two front and two back satellite speakers and a subwoofer are required.3.2.7 Communication Device: ModemThe word modem is an abbreviation for modulation-demodulation. Modulationis the process of converting digital signals to analog. On the other hand, de-modulation is the process of converting analog signals to digital. Modems allowmicrocomputers (digital) to communicate with each other via telephonelines. Both voice and data communication can be conveyed through the sametelephone line.Modem is a hardware you need to have in order to access the Internet. Withoutthis hardware, multimedia technology would not have been able to progress sorapidly. This is because the information or multimedia data available on theInternet would not be able to be shared or referred to like today. THINK In your opinion, what is a modem? How does it work?Currently, modem speed is between 14.4kbps to 56kbps. Modems can bedivided into three categories which are internal modem, external modem andwireless modem.
  49. 49. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 51 Figure 3.7: (a) Internal Modem and (b) External Modem Source: (a) (b) from modem, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), DigitalSubscribers Line (DSL), cable modem and satellite connections are othertechnologies that can be used for connection to the Internet. REFERENCES Refer to Chapter 9 of the book, "Discovering Computers 2003," by Shelly Cashman Vermaat, 2002 for further information regarding the latest communication technology. Exercise 3.2 1. Name FIVE basic hardware that is required in a multimedia computer and state ONE function of each hardware. 2. Name TWO main brands of sound cards that are available in the market currently. 3. Apart from modem, name two latest connection technologies and give a brief explanation about them.
  50. 50. 52 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT 3.3 INPUT AND OUTPUT DEVICESThe role of the input and output device are very important when you develop amultimedia presentation. Both devices are needed when you want to interactwith a computer. You require input devices such as keyboard, digital cameraand scanner to enter the multimedia elements such as sound, text, graphicdesigns and video, into the multimedia computer. This multimedia informationcan then be displayed at anytime using the output devices such as printer,monitor and speakers. 3.4 INPUT DEVICESInput devices collect data and programs that are readable or understandable byhumans and convert them into forms that can be processed by computers. Thereare many types of input devices such as keyboard, mouse, touch screen and voiceinput devices that can be used to develop and distribute a multimedia project.If you are developing a kiosk system, you are encouraged to use touch screen andkeyboard as the input devices so that users can interact with the system. On theother hand, if you are into computer graphics then you can use digitising tabletas the input device. Digitising tablet allows you to draw on the tablet using aspecial pen and the drawings will be displayed immediately on the computerscreen. (a) Joystick (b) Touch screen (c) Light pen Figure 3.8: Examples of Input Devices Source: (a) devices that will be discussed in the subsequent sections are digitisingtablet, digital camera, digital video camera and voice input devices.For more information on other input devices, you are advised to refer to BasicConcepts of Information Technology Module, Open University Malaysia.
  51. 51. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 533.4.1 Digitising TabletThis input device is frequently used in the field of computer graphics. Digitisingtablet is a device that can be used to trace or copy a picture or a painting. Thematerial that you wished to copy is positioned on top of the tablet of thedigitiser. Then, a special stylus pen that is attached to the computer is used totrace the material. While the stylus moves from one position to another, thecomputer records its position through the digitising tablet. After the material hasbeen traced, its image will then be displayed on-screen, printed on paper or keptin the computer system for future use. Digitising tablet also provides goodcontrol during graphics editing because the elements require precision. Thisfeature is immensely useful to graphic and interface designers.3.4.2 Digital CameraThe introduction of digital camera brings multimedia technology into a new era.This technology enables images or graphics to be transferred directly fromthe digital camera to a computer with just a cable extension.It is far simpler than the conventional method whereby you have to capture thepicture or image on the camera first. Then the film needs to be processed toobtain the pictures before it can be scanned by a scanner.A few years ago, storing digital pictures in a digital camera was a problem. Atthat time, the storage capacity was only a few megabytes and it was only capableof storing a few digital images. Now with the advent of new technology such as,the secure digital card with its capacity of up to 128MB, this problem has beensolved. As a result, digital cameras are now widely used. Figure 3.9 shows anexample of a digital camera which is available in the market. Figure 3.9: Digital Camera Source: 00%20Digital%Camera.jpgWhen choosing a digital camera, make sure you get a digital camera that iscapable of producing clear quality displays and with a high resolution. However,
  52. 52. 54 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTsuch high resolution digital cameras are far more expensive than low resolutiondigital cameras. YOUR IDEA In your opinion, is digital camera better than scanner in importing graphics or images? Why?3.4.3 Digital Video CameraDigital video cameras record movements digitally onto a disk or in the camerasmemory. Its image quality is far better but it is rather expensive compared to atraditional camera. A digital video camera can also be used as a digital camera totake still pictures. With the reduction in cost, the digital video camera isbecoming more popular for multimedia presentations.Digital cameras can also store data on digital video tapes which can then bedirectly read by the computer system with the help of digital video drive. Thistape is frequently known as Digital Video (DV).3.4.4 Voice Input DevicesThe voice input device converts human speeches to digital code. The most widelyused voice input device is the microphone. The microphone is thehardware needed to record sound or voice in a multimedia computer. It isusually used for online conversations or tele-consultations. Figure 3.10below shows two examples of ordinary microphones used by computer users. (a) (b) Figure 3.10: Microphone Source:
  53. 53. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 55When the microphone is combined with the sound card and suitable software, asystem of voice recognition is formed. This system enables users to operate themicrocomputer and constructs document through instructions that are voiceactivated. Exercise 3.3 1. What does a voice input device do? 2. The THREE devices that are similar to the mouse are _________, __________ and ______________. 3. Briefly state the differences between the digital camera and the conventional camera. 3.5 OUTPUT DEVICESOutput device converts information that can be read by machines to a form thatcan be read by humans. The data entered and subsequently processed by thecomputer would remain in machine readable form until the output deviceconverts it to a form that is readable by humans. Similarly, like input devices,output devices also play an important role in the development of multimediapresentations.Output devices that are frequently used with your multimedia computers are themonitor, printer, plotter, projector and voice output device. However, only twooutput devices: the monitor and the projector will be discussed here. To knowmore about other output devices, please refer to the Basic Concepts ofInformation Technology Module, Open University Malaysia.3.5.1 MonitorThe monitor is used for display. It is one of the most important hardware in amultimedia computer system. Imagine that you have successfully completedyour final animation project and are looking forward to showing the results ofyour work to your friends. Unfortunately your monitor broke down.Definitely, without the monitor, you will not be able to present the result of yourwork to your friends.
  54. 54. 56 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTThe monitor that is required to develop a multimedia project depends onthe nature of the multimedia application that you are developing and the type ofcomputer that you are using. Do you know that there are various kinds ofmonitors available in the market for both the PC computer and the Macintosh?Among them are the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitor and the portable monitorcommonly known as the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitor. Figure 3.11shows the two types of monitors. (a) (b) Figure 3.11: (a) Cathode Ray Tube monitor (b) Liquid Crystal Display monitorThe two important features of a monitor are its size and clarity. Monitor size isdetermined by the diagonal length of the display area. Usually, monitors come inmany sizes. For example, 14, 15, 17 and 21 inches. The bigger the size of themonitor, the more expensive it is. However, a larger size is capable ofdisplaying more information at any one time.The clarity of the monitor is determined by its resolution which is measuredin pixels. Pixel is the dot or picture element that forms the image ona monitor. The resolution also indicates the density of the pixel on the monitorscreen. Generally speaking, the higher the density of the pixels or the larger thenumber of pixels, the better the quality and clarity of the image being displayed.Dot pitch is the empty space or the distance between each pixel. The lesser thevalue of the dot pitch, the sharper or clearer the quality of thepicture. Meanwhile, refresh rate represents the speed of the monitor to displayback or to refresh the image being displayed. The higher the value of refresh rate,the lower the disruption of the display on the screen.
  55. 55. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 57 NEC Technologies is the leading manufacturer of liquid crystal display monitors or flat screen monitors. To know more about this company, visit its website at ProjectorThe projector is a tool that enables a multimedia presentation to be displayed to alarge group of audience. Among the projectors available in the market are theLiquid Crystal Display Panel and the Three-Gun Video Projector. Liquid Crystal Display Panel projector has many interesting features such as a LCD panel, light source, computer and video input, and internal speakers that can operate computer signals and video. This type of portable projector is suitable for use because it is cheap and a high-quality. Three-Gun Video Projector is capable of displaying high-quality images and is usually used in large halls. However, such projectors are very expensive. Hewlett Packard is the leading manufacturer of printers and multi- functional devices that combine the printer, scanner and fax into a single product. To know more about this company, visit its website at Exercise 3.4 1. What is the special type of printer used for drawings and designs? 2. When do you need a plotter compared to a printer? 3.6 STORAGEAn important feature of every computer is its ability to store information.Computers can store information permanently even after the electrical supply is
  56. 56. 58 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTstopped. Therefore, your work can be saved to be used later, to share informationwith others or to modify existing information.Each data or instructions that you want the computer to perform would be kepttemporarily in the computers main memory which is known as the primarystorage. However, it is not permanent and will disappear when the computer isswitched off. Therefore, a secondary storage or second storage medium isrequired. Secondary storage enables data, instructions or computer programs tobe kept permanently.To estimate the memory required for a multimedia project, meaning the storagespace that is required for the hard-disk, floppy-disk or CD-ROM, and not therandom access memory (RAM), you would require prior knowledge of thecontent and scope of the project that you are going to develop. Integration ofcoloured images, text, sound elements, graphics, animation, video-clipsand programming codes, would require storage space. The more the integrationof multimedia elements, the more storage space isrequired. Therefore, efficient multimedia developers need to know thedifferent kinds of secondary storage mediums that are available. They need toknow the limits, the capacity and the use of each secondary storage mediumssuch as the floppy-disk, hard-disk, optical discs and the magnetic tape.3.6.1 Hard-DiskBefore the existence of multimedia technology, the majority of information filecomprised only of text and tables. Therefore, large storage mediums were notrequired. However, after the introduction of multimedia technology, the demandfor large storage mediums increased. This was caused by file sizes that containedmultimedia information such as graphics, audio and video that could reachhundreds of megabytes. Hence they could not be stored in floppy-disks even ifthey were compressed (.zip). Thus, hard-disks play an important role in thestorage of multimedia data.There are three types of hard-disks namely the internal hard-disk, hard-diskcartridge and hard-disk pack. Figure 3.12: Hard-disk Source: (a) rastar36zx.jpg (b)
  57. 57. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 59(a) Internal Hard-DiskThe internal hard-disk is also known as the permanent disk because it is placed inthe systems unit. It is usually used to store almost all the programs and data ofthe systems file. For example, almost all microcomputers used the internal hard-disk to store their operating systems and major applications such as Word andExcel. Hard-disks with a capacity of 10 gigabytes has faster access. Seagate is one of the leading manufacturers of high capacity internal hard disks. To know more about this company, visit its website at Hard-Disk CartridgeHard-disk Cartridge is easily removable just like retrieving a cassette from avideo recorder. However, the total storage of the computer system is limited bythe number of cartridges. This differentiates the hard-disk cartridge from theinternal hard-disk. However, even though the internal hard-disk provides fasteraccess, it has a fixed storage and is not easily removed. Therefore, the hard-diskcartridge is more suitably used as a backup copy to store multimedia files such asaudio, video, animation and other important data.The capacity of an ordinary hard-disk cartridge is two gigabytes. Normally, hard-disk cartridge is used for transferring large size files such as desktop publicationsfiles that have graphics, colours and others. Among the hard disks cartridge thatare available in the market currently are the Iomegas Jaz and SyQuestsSparQ. Some time ago, the SyQuests SparQ hard-disk cartridge was the mostpopular portable medium used by multimedia developers andprofessionals. However, currently its place has been taken over by Iomegas Jazwhich is not only cheaper but has better storage capacity and faster access.(c) Hard-Disk PackHard-disk Pack is a portable storage medium. It is used to keep large batches ofinformation. Its capacity far exceeds other types of hard-disks. Microcomputersthat have access to the Internet, minicomputers or mainframes usually haveaccess to external hard-disk pack through communication lines. Banks and creditcard companies use it to record financial information.
  58. 58. 60 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTIf you are interested to know more about secondary storage mediums such asfloppy-disks and optic disks, refer to the Basic Concepts of InformationTechnology Module, Open University Malaysia. (a) 3.5 inch floppy-disk (b) Zip disk (c) HiFD disk Figure 3.13: Examples of floppy disks Source: (a) (b) (c) Iomega and Imation are the leading developers of high capacity floppy disks. To know more about these companies, visit their websites at and Exercise 3.5 1. What is the difference between the internal hard-disk and the hard- disk cartridge? State the advantages and disadvantages. 2. List FOUR types of floppy-disks that are currently available.
  59. 59. CHAPTER 3 MULTIMEDIA HARDWARE 613.7 GUIDELINES FOR CHOOSING A MULTIMEDIA COMPUTERHave you ever faced problems when planning to purchase a multimedia personalcomputer? Do you know the multimedia specifications that are compatible andsuitable for your needs?A normal situation that occurs is when you go to a computer store and thesalesperson proposes that you buy the most sophisticated and expensivecomputer available. The important issue here is, whether you need to own sucha sophisticated and expensive multimedia computer as proposed by thesalesperson?If you read a computer advertisement that explains the specifications of amultimedia computer as follows: THINK Processor Intel Pentium 4 1.8GHz 400MHz Bus speed Intel 845 chipset 256MB PC133up SDRAM 20.0GB Hard Drive 48xCD-ROM or 16xCD-RW 3.5", 1.44MB NVIDIA Vanta 16MB Graphics Card 56K ITU v.90 Modem PS/2 Standard Keyboard - 104-key (International) Do you know or understand the specifications given for the computer? What do the specifications mean?Could you answer the questions above? If not, read the descriptions in Table 3.2
  60. 60. 62 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT Table 3.2: Multimedia Computer Specifications Descriptions Specifications Description Processor Intel States the microprocessor, which is the Intel Pentium Pentium 4 1.8GHz 4 chip with a speed of 1.8GHz. 400MHz Bus speed The systems bus speed which is 400MHz. This speed is among the fastest. Intel 845 chipset Main motherboard used for this model is the Intel 845 chipset which is suitable for use with the Intel Pentium chip. 256MB PC133up Random Access Memory (RAM) used is the SDRAM SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic RAM). It has a storage capacity of 256MB and speed of 133MHz. 20.0GB Hard Drive. The hard-disk capacity is 20.0GB. 48x CD-ROM or 16x CD-ROM device or CD-RW device with 48X and 16X CD-RW respectively. 3.5", 1.44MB States the standard floppy-disk drive NVIDIA Vanta 16MB The graphic card with a capacity of 16MB. It is Graphics Card suitable for 3-dimensional graphics and video display. 56K ITU v.90 Modem The modems specifications. It has a maximum data delivery speed (56kbps). ITU is an organisation that determines the communication standard that is the International Telegraphic Union. V.90 is the latest standard for the modem. PS/2 Standard The standard keyboard with 104 keys Keyboard - 104-key (International)Apart from the computers specifications as stated above, what are the othercriteria which need to be considered when you want to purchase a multimediacomputer? When you have decided to purchase a multimedia computer for yourdaily use, you need not follow the latest trend but on the other hand, youshould consider the following criteria:-