Virtual Signing: Capture, Animation, Storage and Transmission
Equal access to information for all citizens has been defined as a European priority in building up the new communication society. In this context, providing sign language support for the contents broadcasted over digital TV networks or available over the Internet is a key factor to enhance the quality of life of the 15 million hearing impaired European citizens. Echoeing this need, the ViSiCAST project of the European 5th Framework Programme aims at elaborating, implementing and evaluating innovative methods and technologies in an open and interoperable framework.
Relying on its expertise in multimedia content technologies, ARTEMIS has developed a sign language communication system based on virtual signing. Exploiting the functionalities of the MPEG-4 standard, this system operates by compositing the primary information stream (video content or web page) with a very-low bitrate (at most 40 kbps) animation stream associated to a parametric description of human gesture. Real-time decoding and subsequent virtual character animation is then performed on the user terminal side.
Presented at the international forum IBC'02, this system has raised the interest of broadcasters and hearing impaired people communities, demonstrating the potential impact of high added value novel TV services.