Science

Vector-based video could mean no more pixels

Vector-based video could mean ...
A newly-developed codec could make pixels obsolete within five years, according to its creators
A newly-developed codec could make pixels obsolete within five years, according to its creators
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A newly-developed codec could make pixels obsolete within five years, according to its creators
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A newly-developed codec could make pixels obsolete within five years, according to its creators

Unlike traditional bitmap graphics, which are made up of an array of pixels, vector graphics consist of lines, curves and shapes that are based on geometric formulas. Not only do they take up far less memory than bitmaps, but sections of them can also be enlarged without any loss of resolution. Currently, however, vector graphics aren’t well-suited to photorealistic applications, such as video. That may be about to change, though, as researchers from the UK’s University of Bath have developed a new program that is said to overcome such limitations – the scientists believe that the technology could make pixels obsolete within five years.

The main problem with vector graphics is that they tend to be made up of sharply-defined areas of solid color, lacking the subtle transitions between those areas that are seen in bitmaps. As a result, the graphics are good for things like posters and animation, but tend to look a little cartoon-like.

The new codec (a program that encodes or decodes a digital video stream) is reportedly capable of filling in the boundaries between the elements in vector images. No details have been released regarding how the process works. The result, however, is moving vector-based video that is said to be equal in quality to bitmap video.

“This is a significant breakthrough which will revolutionize the way visual media is produced,” said Prof. Phil Willis, of the university’s Department of Computer Science.

The codec was developed in partnership with tech firms Root6 Technology, Smoke & Mirrors and Ovation Data Services. Commercial partners are now being sought to develop the technology further.

Samples of the vector-based video can be seen at the UBath link below.

Source: University of Bath via PopSci

17 comments
mooseman
Sounds good! The main thing is to ensure that this codec is *open-source*. That way, there will be no vendor lock-in.
Todd Dunning
This is a very big deal.
Transformative, in fact. The effect on gaming in particular will be stunning. I hope they can get it to 100% quality, the demo video was obviously hiding a lot.
But a great idea nonetheless, and certainly the market need is there.
davem2
I'm very skeptical. Following the links to the video showed nothing convincing. Lets see a side by side of a large photo in both bitmap and their new vector format. I can't see how a vector based codec can be more accurate at representing an image on display devices that still uses pixels. Bitmaps of sufficient resolution include unique info for each and every pixel on the display device.
MQ
Light field vector maps are a great advancement in imaging....
BUT... this may be a little sensationalised.
Pixels are the byproduct of the digital nature of photography (and video)
There still must be a finite spatial sampling step, and this means that the effective pixel limit will still remain....
Between the sampled variables, obviously it is possible to average the light vector field to obtain a "lossless" picture, however if the information which was not captured in that space was information, other than the average of the adjacent pixels, information will still be lost in the sampling method.
This technique is also done in digital filtering of images with traditional pixels, it is possible to re interpolate the pixels to increase the pixel density and then perform a gaussian filter operation (or other spatial averaging (or whatever operation is desired) and "recover" the lost data.
This being as it is, I will not be unhappy with increased image detail with a smaller storage size....
If I am very wrong, please, someone who knows the topic set me straight. (Not asking for a bunch of hate for being a bit pedantic.)
The ability to change focus points, or to focus on everything in the image, have multiple discrete focus points, or viewer selected real-time enhancement will be awesome. (If it is possible with the "limited" computing power now available...)
DemonDuck
"...the scientists believe that the technology could make pixels obsolete within five years."
...until the image is viewed on a digital device.... Then PIXELS!!!
Rusty Harris
You know how nice that would be, if you are the family "photoshop guy" and get a 800x600 photo they want enlarged, and for the 4,394 time you tell them you can't blow it up too much without a HUGE loss of quality?
Todd Dunning
Rusty I feel your pain buddy... since 1997 at least.
Cpat
Its back to the future! It will be like sitting at a colorized IBM 2250 from the 1970's.
Gregg Eshelman
Every graphic artist should post this by their desk. http://www.greystoneinn.net/comics/20040330.gif
c w
@Rusty and Todd
"Can you blow this up?"
"Sure. Got any firecrackers?"