View Technologies develops new lossless compression method

November 1, 1997

View Technologies develops new lossless compression methodCompany's algorithm achieves 6:1 compressionSoftware developer View Technologies of Baltimore has introduced a new compression algorithm that could make lossless compression a

View Technologies develops new lossless compression method

Company's algorithm achieves 6:1 compression

Software developer View Technologies of Baltimore has introduced a new compression algorithm that could make lossless compression a practical reality for teleradiology and PACS. Currently in software form, the algorithm already offers a lossless compression ratio of 6:1 for large cine images such as angiograms.

Generally speaking, compression algorithms are either lossless or lossy. Lossless compression, which historically has had a maximum ratio of 3:1, preserves all of the data in a digitized image, ensuring that the decompressed image on the receiving end is a pixel-for-pixel duplicate of the original. Such images, however, are slower to send and more cumbersome to archive than those compressed at higher ratios, resulting in higher transmission and storage costs.

Lossy compression techniques, which generally offer usable compression ratios between 10:1 and 30:1, improve transmission speeds and storage capabilities by reducing the amount of data to be transmitted, thus enabling higher compression ratios. However, because these algorithms work by selectively discarding image data-ideally, diagnostically insignificant data-the decompressed images are not exactly the same as the originals. In addition, some lossy techniques introduce image artifacts such as blocking and noise, which at higher compression ratios have the potential to impair interpretation.

Rather than trying to achieve higher compression ratios with lossy algorithms, View Technologies has focused on improving lossless compression techniques. The company's software has already been evaluated by staff at Johns Hopkins University Bayview Medical Center and the University of Maryland at Baltimore, both of which have concluded that it provides a low-cost, lossless solution for teleradiology and, potentially, for PACS. The company continues to work with both facilities, as well as other leading U.S. medical centers, to adapt the technology for echocardiograms and other ultrasound applications. The company anticipates achieving cinemagraphic compression ratios of 10:1 by the end of this year. A static-image lossless algorithm with a ratio of greater than 10:1 should be available in the near future, according to company president Gunther Than.

View has been developing lossless compression software for medical and industrial applications for over four years. The company recently received a $50,000 Maryland Industrial Partnerships award to develop a PC-based PACS, plus additional financial support from the Maryland Economic Development Corporation to apply for a Small Business Innovation Research grant.