European researchers claim to have created unique software capable of coding any piece of recorded music, or speech for any device.
The team is working under the aegis of the European Union's Information Society Technologies (IST) initiative to promote technology development. Its project, ARDOR, has developed the codec, short for COmpressor-DECompressor, to act as a universal engine for all media players.
"At the moment there are dozens of standardised sound codecs. Basically each application has its own dedicated codec and these codecs are optimized for specific input signals, such as speech or music, and specific constraints like bit rate," said Nicolle van Schijndel, ARDOR project coordinator and senior scientist at Philips Research Laboratories.
According to van Schijndel, the vast number of device-specific codecs that emerged as software companies developed code that optimised music for particular devices means that music cannot be easily ported between players.
However, the ARDOR-developed generic codec will, if adopted, enable it to code any piece of recorded music or speech for any device, with the bit rate, or file size of each piece of music automatically adapted for each receiving device.
According to the researchers, the codec will work on all devices from mobile phones to professional broadcasting equipment.
"The generic sound coding technology is not yet mature enough to contribute to standardisation, but parts of it may very well be included in future standards. We are closely following standardisation activities, such as MPEG4," said van Schijndel.
The researchers accept that they face problems trying to persuade hardware and software companies to adopt their technology.
"They will probably only do this if there is a clear need, for example, because their codecs do not deliver the required functionality such as interoperability. I expect this will be the case, but only the future will tell, " added van Schijndel.
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