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Definition of Multimedia: sectors, dimensions and direction of the market

The revolution of the digital age is transforming the foundations of the information age, whose basis was analogous. The information now, represented in digital language, allows interactivity between user and source.

Before digital technology could be harnessed economically, the simplest world of analog technology dominated the mega-industries that met people's need for information, education, communications, and entertainment. That is, companies dedicated to the media: publishing houses and printers, producers in film and videotape, radio and television stations, as well as the telecommunications and electronic products industries for domestic use.

Together, these five mega-industries generate annual revenues totaling around one trillion dollars.

Today, of course, digital technology has made its foray into all these businesses and promises to completely change its structure, and that is precisely what we are going to refer to. First of all, it is important to note that analog processing technology—the implementation of which depended heavily on the media—inevitably led to the emergence of separate and heterogeneous mega-industries, each with its own distribution channels, labor forces, skills and knowledge bases, jargon and culture, as well as other significant differences in its infrastructure.

Within the analogous environment, it is difficult and expensive to move freely between the scattered means of communication: for example, to move from the videotape to high-quality photographic copies. To do so, specialized equipment and skills are required. Hence, what appears in a book or magazine tends to remain in the same paper-based format; the same applies to film/videotape, 35 mm transparencies and other media.

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Digital is revealed

The revolution unleashed by the digital age changes the foundations of the information age whose basis was analogous. Information, no longer in the form of analogous waves (i.e., linear and continuous), can now be easily represented in the digital language of zero-and-one computers, which represent the two basic states of electronic switches: on and off. For a digital computer, it makes no difference whether a data stream represents a word, a number, a sound, a still image, a video, or any other type of material from a digitized source. Also, once they are in digital format, this data can be transferred to any other medium. Perhaps most importantly, the various kinds of data, such as audio, animated graphics, alphanumeric symbols, or video, can be easily intermingled and output in a variety of combinations and transformations.

The mathematics behind such digital data transformations were recognized several decades ago. However, as in the case of nuclear energy, a vast technological development was required to make the digital representation of information economically viable. These advanced digital technologies are currently flooding the market; and include microprocessors that possess near-magic power, memory chips with incredible storage capabilities, highly sophisticated operating systems and application software, very high-bandwidth networks coupled to increasingly sophisticated image compression and data exchange products. With these advances, the scenario is constantly changing within the conventional communications and media industries, already established for a long time. Today's mega-industries are increasingly attached to the emerging power of the computer industry, not only as partners but, perhaps, also as muses for their creativity.

Multimedia Computing

This reduction of diverse media to a single common digital format is known as multimedia computing, which corresponds, to explain it in a simple way, to the marriage of conventional computer data (alphanumeric), color graphics, computer animation, CD-quality audio and full motion video. But perhaps most salient is the fact that multimedia, today, primarily involves combinations of these kinds of data digitally formatted on an optical disc, operating on a computer platform. Today, such discs are known as CD-ROMs (read-only in-memory compact discs).

However, multimedia extends to interactive television and all its related services that are emerging—on-demand videos, home shopping, video conferencing, electronic town halls, etc. Multimedia also includes wireless communications that distribute the various types of data over electromagnetic radio (RF) frequencies. The technology also extends to new electronic products for home use, such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), which are capable of processing, transmitting and receiving multimedia data through handheld devices.

One more application is Virtual Reality (VR), through which users can simulate experiences such as entering a set of computer-generated images, which allows the user to feel as if they were entering a synthetic environment and moving within it, in the style of the Stephen King movie. El Palador de Prado. If this controversial concept materializes, it promises to be a revolution in the field of entertainment. Among the most far-reaching applications of virtual reality, medical/sensitive applications have been contemplated, including clinical therapy with virtual sex. Other scientific tasks can also be carried out in the field of medicine, where the doctor can simulate a procedure in the operating room before carrying out the operation. In short, multimedia can be considered as applications that work within a digital environment, abundant in media availability. This can occur in the personal computer, in local networks, in telecommunications or in mobile environments.

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Moreover, this digital irruption, which today overwhelms the established media, promises to create a completely new sector in itself – publishing houses by multimedia. This new way of editing publications combines all kinds of media, such as spoken language, music, written text, still images, animation and video—poured into the CD-ROM or perhaps other formats (some of which have not yet been invented). that will allow users total flexibility in the retrieval of information. Some of these albums are already on the market and house complete encyclopedias, describe long expeditions such as australia, as well as other reference, educational and recreational titles.

How multimedia is defined

The range of uses of multimedia is so wide that it escapes any definition. If you ask ten people what multimedia is, you will find that six have no idea about it, and that each of the remaining four will describe them differently. For example, multimedia for manufacturers are various types of computer equipment and software that increase worker productivity or an opportunity to sell more products. Seen by the media and publishing industries, multimedia is a channel for reaching consumers' homes. With divergent points of view, very different requirements and expectations are presented.

Multimedia is not just a term used to describe a technology; nor is it reduced to a new computer or an electronic device—it is nothing less than the vision of a world in which the barriers to communication and self-expression that are erected in the media are removed. Analog industries continue to require experts to use their prowess in making images that constitute high-quality visual stimuli and messages. In a digital world, messages of this degree of complexity and visual impact will be more accessible and will be crafted by people of reasonable talent and motivation, and not necessarily by expert professionals. However, it will be a long time before you can create a rock video with a children's school band, financed with a smaller box.

Multimedia will have far-reaching effects on all human communications vehicles. Today, the greatest excitement lies, at least among the computer and consumer products industries, in recreation in commercial CD-ROM multimedia format titles or as next-generation video games. For example, in 1990 Nintendo sold more than 8.5 million units of equipment and 60 to 70 million software titles. Nintendo estimates that its penetration rate in American homes can be 30 percent and it is clear that not only teenagers and young people are passionate users of Nintendo products. Based on demographic studies, one-third of video game users are over the age of 18, while six percent are preschoolers.

CD-ROM discs as well as real-time, high-resolution graphics and videos will play an important role in the future of consumer gaming. Currently, advanced interfaces are being integrated into the environment of these games, coming from the efforts begun in the field of virtual reality since its inception. The introduction of 32-bit processors in 3DO Multiplayer-style playback equipment, as a standard for video games, and in CD-ROM accessories, are at the forefront of quality products, similar to that of a movie theater, and virtual reality interfaces in next-generation gaming technology.

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