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High-definition image data compressed in an instant!

My hobby is photography, and I often take pictures with my digital camera. Recent cameras can take pretty pictures though, on the down side, this has resulted in an increase in image data size which makes handling a little encumbersome. For example, it takes a really long time when I try to send e-mails with picture attachments because of the large size of the data.

When I talked about this with my family, I was told by my father who works at a manufacturer that in factories and plants, for example, people handle lots of high-resolution photos for quality control and inspections, and have difficulty storing them. Moreover, even if images are to be compressed, the photos are for quality management and thus there is a problem of loss of resolution. Did you know about this? And, furthermore, I was surprised to hear that NEC has developed a breakthrough image format that allows this load to be reduced.

I wasted no time in asking about this at length with NEC's Mr. Sadoshima.

Picture: Interviewee Mr. Takeshi Sadoshima

Person-in-charge of NEC's proprietary image compression engine "StarPixel." Everyday he is engaged in presenting new proposals to customers and promoting exhibitions, seminars, and other sales activities.

  • * The image compression engine "StarPixel" is currently released only in Japan.
  • * "StarPixel" is a registered trademark of NEC Corporation in Japan.
  • MitaHello, it is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Sadoshima. I'd like to jump right in and ask you what kind of product is NEC's proprietary image compression engine "StarPixel."
  • SadoshimaBefore I explain, may I talk first about the background to its development? I think it would be easier for everyone if I explained this from start to end since this is a field that everyone is not very familiar with.
  • MitaOK. Please.
  • SadoshimaAt present, large volumes of images are being handled in various fields of industry more and more. In factories, for example. Up till now, people used to visually check production lines to see where products are being scratched or damaged and to see if there are omissions in production processes. However, recently, cameras have become cheaper and shutter speeds have gotten faster. As a result, more and more factories are using cameras to take pictures for checking.
  • MitaI have heard that quality control is being conducted using images.
  • SadoshimaYes, but images for quality control like this must include everything down to the details, and so each single photo is taken at high resolution which makes the image data very large in size. From what I have heard, there are places that handle large images such as 700 megabytes for one photo. Moreover, a countless number of photos must be taken at high speed and stored because of fast production speeds at factories, which means that the volume of data becomes enormous. And, since factories and headquarters are often located at separate sites, this enormous volume of data must be communicated over a network.
  • MitaThis means that sending large volumes of data will place a heavy burden on the network.
  • SadoshimaFor example, logistics companies use cameras for tracking dispatched goods take a lot of images and measurement-related companies take lots of aerial photos. Like the examples I've just raised, industries that use lots of images have increased more than everyone thinks.
  • MitaI didn't know that images were being put to use in so many industries.

Picture:Utilization of large-scale image data in fields of industry[Larger view]Larger viewUtilization of large-scale image data in fields of industry

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