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13.4. Summary

MPEG-4 profiles and levels are meant for interoperability and conformance checking. MPEG-4 profiles start from MPEG-2 Video principles, consistently applied to all parts of the MPEG-4 standard. The fact that an MPEG-4 scene is potentially composed of multiple objects implies that profiles and levels must give bounds for the total of objects in the scene rather than for individual ones. While implementations of MPEG-4 reach a more mature stage, so does the understanding of industry's needs for interoperability points. It is not unlikely that more profiles need to be added in the future, and it is probable that some profiles will never be used. This means that the set of profiles is less elegant than it could have been, but this does not pose a major problem. What really counts is that industry sectors concentrate on a few profiles and levels, and that these are well defined, so that multiple independent parties can build interoperable systems. Early developments indicate that this is happening: Simple and Advanced simple are the preferred visual profiles, for instance, in the initial phases of MPEG-4 deployment.

MPEG-4 has been designed as a future-proof multimedia standard. This means that although MPEG-4 is largely completed, new elements are being added as the need arises. For instance, there is work on a specification for more interoperable intellectual property management and protection (IPMP), and MPEG is also studying new coding methodologies that will allow MPEG-4 to keep delivering state-of-the art technology. This work will result in new profiles and very likely (for IPMP) even new profiling dimensions.


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