Multimedia Technologies and Applications for the 21st Century: Visions of World Experts presents contributions from leading researchers and experts describing their current research and their views of the future trends in the field. The book consists of thirteen chapters in five parts. These chapters tackle a number of critical issues in distributed multimedia systems and applications - from VLSI processors that support multimedia and multimedia servers, through multimedia databases and multimedia networks and communications, to merging multimedia applications. Only a few years ago multimedia seemed like a brand new research field and an emerging new industry. Today, at the edge of the 21st century, multimedia research is coming of age, and the multimedia industry has significantly grown with the total market estimated to be about $50 billion. Several years ago it was felt that the digital media revolution had just started; however, the seeds had been sown long before. Fundamental technologies, such as interactive laser disks, video games, and electronic encyclopedias were invented in the 1970s and 80s. They represented the seeds for current `hot' applications, such as digital libraries, video-on-demand, interactive television, and videoconferencing. Another aspect of the digital media revolution is the formation of a new media industry composed of computer, entertainment, communication, and consumer electronics companies. Many industry segments are currently involved in creating new products and services, positioning themselves for the 21st century. They include telephone, cable, and satellite TV companies, communication equipment companies, TV and radio broadcasters, on-line Internet service providers, cable channels, movie studios, record companies, book publishers, CD-ROM title creators, Internet tool vendors, multimedia software tools companies, computer companies, general software tools companies, computer add-on vendors, semiconductor vendors, and consumer electronics vendors. Multimedia Technologies and Applications for the 21st Century: Visions of World Experts should stimulate the curiosity of its readers and inspire new technological breakthroughs in this exciting field. It serves as a valuable reference for system designers, engineers, programmers, and managers who are involved in multimedia systems, the Internet, and their applications. This book can also be used as a textbook for advanced courses on multimedia in engineering curricula.