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MPEG-4 is a method of defining compression of audio and visual (AV) digital data. It was introduced in late 1998 and designated a standard for a group of audio and video coding formats and related technology agreed upon by the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11) under the formal standard ISO/IEC 14496 – Coding of audio-visual objects. Uses of MPEG-4 include compression of AV data for web (streaming media) and CD distribution, voice (telephone, videophone) and broadcast television applications.

Initially, MPEG-4 was aimed primarily at low bit-rate video communications; however, its scope as a multimedia coding standard was later expanded. MPEG-4 is efficient across a variety of bit-rates ranging from a few kilobits per second to tens of megabits per second. MPEG-4 provides the following functions:

  • Improved coding efficiency over MPEG-2
  • Ability to encode mixed media data (video, audio, speech)
  • Error resilience to enable robust transmission
  • Ability to interact with the audio-visual scene generated at the receiver

MPEG-4 enables different software and hardware developers to create multimedia objects possessing better abilities of adaptability and flexibility to improve the quality of such services and technologies as digital television, animation graphics, the World Wide Web and their extensions. Data network providers can use MPEG-4 for data transparency. With the help of standard procedures, MPEG-4 data can be interpreted and transformed into other signal types compatible with any available network.

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