COMIS

In 1988 Leonardo launched the ESPRIT COMIS to support the MPEG-1 standardisation project and promote its exploitation by the European industry.

Project description

COMIS aims to define an efficient coding algorithm and a conceptual design of the LSIs which would allow implementation of a simple decoder for office and home applications targeted to access moving image information recorded on a variety of digital storage media having a transfer rate up to 1.5 Mbit/s.

The availability of a standard for this bitrate range would spur a wide range of applications in different areas, such as entertainment, education and training and in the office.

In spite of the ambitious target and the limited quality of some pioneering developments, the proposers believe that viable technical solutions exist, since attractive quality at 1.5 Mbit/s is being demonstrated in some European laboratories. The hardware yielding it, however, is very bulky because very little VLSI is being used, is aimed at coding and decoding applications and the possible non real time operation of the encoder is not taken into account.

Therefore the project will proceed according to the following steps:

  • Study of efficient moving image coding algorithms;
  • Selection of one algorithm;
  • Conceptual design of the VLSI needed to implement the algorithm;
  • Issue of standard specifications.

To ensure that the result of the project will be in fact adopted by the industry has required the setting up of the present consortium, which comprises the largest European IT industries likely to exploit industrially the standard.

Phase II of COMIS

In 1992 ISO/MPEG had completely specified ISO/IEC 11172. COMIS played a fundamental role in the development of the standard by providing technical inputs to the international standardisation arena in the field of moving image coding and helping the convergence of the work targeted at the international standard with parallel activities outside MPEG. In the area of audiovisual multiplexing and synchronisation the project was able to lead the work by providing the key technical contributions upon which the standard was based. The project also supplied the chairman of the MPEG Working Group and of other subgroups.

In the mean time it is known that several semiconductor industries, including European ones, have committed to the development of the technogy that the COMIS project, in the wider international environment, successfully aimed to promote. Also it is publicly known that several consumer electronics industries, including European ones, have decided to go to the market with consumer products based on the MPEG standard supported by COMIS.

The project has proceeded according to the following steps:

  • Study of efficient moving image coding algorithms;
  • Selection of one algorithm; Optimisation;
  • Issue of standard specifications;
  • Conceptual design of the VLSI needed to implement the algorithm;
  • Hardware demonstrator

To ensure that the result of the project would be actually adopted by the industry has required the setting up of the consortium in its form, which comprises the largest European IT industries likely to exploit industrially the standard. It is to be noted that the project has worked until now in syntony with the ISO activities known as MPEG (Moving Picture Coding Experts Group). This strict connection also worked positively for the PICA project (ESPRIT 563).

The objectives of the first phase of the project having been successfully reached, the CEC has provided additional funding for an extension of the COMIS project. This extra funding added to some underexpenditure in the first phase will give the opportunity to one of the old partners and a few new ones to produce about 30 min. of interactive audiovisual software for use on the demo workstation part of the development of which has been funded by the preceding phase of the project. The audiovisual software will be coded according to the MPEG standard.

A second goal of the extension is to build on the experience of the extension and the considerable appeal that ISO 11172 has on the community involved in the production of multimedia software to create a so-called European MPEG User Group. This initiative being done under the auspices of the CEC it is expected will greatly encourage people to make the necessary commitments to the use of the MPEG standard and start the production of software.

PARTNERS

British Telecommunications plc
CNET
INMOS Limited
ITT – Intermetall GmbH
Philips Consumer Electronics
Philips Research Laboratories
PTT Research Neher Laboratories
Telefonbau und Normalzeit GmbH
Thomson Consumer Electronics
Thomson-CSF
Universitaet Hannover