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Intelligent Virtual World: Technologies and Applications in Distributed Virtual Environment

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In the last few years we have observed an explosive growth of multimedia computing, communication and applications. Thls revolution is transforming the way people live, work, and interact with each other, and is impacting the way business, government services, education, entertainment, and health care are operating. Yet, several issues related to modeling, specification, analysis and design of distributed multimedia systems and intelligent multimedia applications are still challenging to both researchers and practitioners.

This book collects high quality papers from the researchers around the world, with an emphasis on the most recent research interests among the literature of distributed and virtual computing. The book summarizes recent research topics, with a direction to the four major areas: intelligent content-based information retrieval and virtual world, Quality-of-Services of multimedia data, intelligent techniques for distance education, and intelligent agents for E-Commerce. Arhcles of these four areas are organized in part I to part IV, respectively. The last part of h s book includes a chapter, whch points out the future directions of intelligent multimedia computing and networlang. A technical summary of issues in each of the four major areas is gven in the following.

Among the new challenges of multimedia computing, intelligent mechanisms for content-based information retrieval seem to be the most difficult issue. Unlike traditional database systems, whch allow query specification based on keywords and numerical comparisons, image database system requires a sophisticated retrieval mechanism. Current approaches of image retrieval rely on color, texture, shape, and object spatial relations. However, the most difficult issue of image content-based retrieval is the investigation of friendly visual specification techniques. How to visually describe the need of a user is a very difficult problem. On the other hand, content-based retrieval of video records not only involves the objects in a video, the timing of object movement is also considered. Scene identification and object tracing are basic techniques, which only solve part of the problem. Yet, tools for semantic analysis of video contents are still underdevelopment. Content-based video retrieval may rely on speech detection and recognition, which are also used in the automatic retrieval of audio information.
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