A significant problem for any digital library is the network bandwidth required to transmit large digital images. The bandwidth consumption scales with the number of images needed by a single user, and with the number of users requesting the services of the library. The popularity of database browsers such as Gopher and Mosaic has serious implications for the administrators of digital image libraries.
We propose to provide a system comprising an innovative new compression scheme and transmission protocol that has been shown in an existing prototype version to reduce bandwidth requirements for many users by factors as large as 100, along with software servers and visualization programs for the digital library user. This system will allow both quick-look and full-image access to digital archives, ranging from a very-low-bandwidth browse mode suitable for looking at many images very quickly, to completely lossless transfer of images.
Our approach unites a newly developed compression scheme with an existing machine-independent transmission protocol to achieve progressive transmission of images, which allows a user to reconstruct, view, and optionally reject an image as it arrives, rather than waiting for the whole image, compressed or not, to arrive.
The proposed system would be an important contribution in support of general public and educational access to digital image libraries, because many of these users have only low-bandwidth connections to the Internet, and a method of producing useful images in minutes or seconds instead of hours will make a crucial difference in how these people use digital archives and how productive their digital library experience can be.
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