Camcorders, DVDs, UHD screens, digital televisions, LCD and plasma displays, color scanners and printers, the internet: the digital revolution has truly changed our world. Multiple media existed before, and today we still watch TV, read newspapers and books, listen to the radio, and go to the cinema. But more and more we find our sources of information and entertainment combined into what everyone now calls multimedia. We read newspapers online, listen to the radio on our cell phone and at home on TV we watch movies stored on DVD or local memory.
International standards from Technical Committee 100 of the IEC make all the pieces of multimedia work together properly and ensure that the quality of it is identical the world over, no matter where you live and no matter where the equipment you're using was made.
In such an increasingly 'smart' environment, standards play an important role by ensuring interoperability. David C. Felland, Chairman of IEC TC 100, says: "Reliable worldwide interoperability is the basis of what international standards are all about."
TC 100 is involved in consumer products ranging from digital video players to energy efficient display measurement technology and mobile communications. Its role in the IEC is to prepare International Standards in the areas of audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment. "Essentially, TC 100 focuses on emerging technologies − such as the smart home and smart phone − and their systems relationships," Felland says. "TC 100 plays a key role in standardizing the process, interface, storage and presentation of information associated with these developing technologies."
We are now quite far into the shift from conventional analogue signal processing to digital signal processing for audio, visual and multimedia systems and equipment, for both consumers and professionals . The boundaries separating these two groups of people are diminishing. This phenomenon is particularly notable in multimedia technologies. Due to digitization, many consumer products in the audio and video fields now approach the performance and quality that professional users require for their applications.
Not only that, much of this kind of product is less and less stand-alone and increasingly part of larger systems. Think portable entertainment device and you should think of the associated equipment such that in your vehicle or home entertainment system that can work in conjunction with each other.
What's more digitization brings the ability to make copies indistinguishable from their sources, which leads to concerns about intellectual property rights. Safeguarding them is important and we've heard of people facing the law for piracy on this question.
These are just some of the issues that TC 100 wrestles with as it lays down standards for audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment. The field they work in is very broad and touches much of our daily lives. Those who work with computer screens may not think about how manufacturers ensure that the colors are true: that reds are red, blues are blue and greens are green. But the company manufacturing the screen has to ensure its product delivers and TC 100 has developed standards to assist.
In fact, TC 100 prepares standards for the best end to end quality of recording, distribution and reproduction of audio, video and data signals, for both consumers and professionals.* In other words, for the equipment and systems that have come to play an important part of our professional and personal lives from home entertainment systems to personal computers.
* This includes standards for interfaces, interconnections, and interoperability between systems as well as standards for test and measuring methods. They apply to: receivers; display terminals; magnetic, optical and solid state storage equipment; systems interfaces; interoperability requirements; performance criteria; and terms and definitions.