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Blind quality assessment system for multimedia communications using tracing watermarking

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4 Author(s)
Campisi, P. ; Dipt. Elettronica Applicata, Univ. di Roma TRE, Italy ; Carli, M. ; Giunta, G. ; Neri, A.

This paper presents a novel method to blindly estimate the quality of a multimedia communication link by means of an unconventional use of digital fragile watermarking. Data hiding by digital watermarking is usually employed for multimedia copyright protection, authenticity verification, or similar purposes. However, watermarking is here adopted as a technique to provide a blind measure of the quality of service in multimedia communications. Specifically, a fragile watermark is hidden in an MPEG-like host data video transport stream using a spread-spectrum approach. Like a tracing signal, the watermark tracks the data, where it is embedded, since both the watermark and the host data follow the same communication link. The estimation of the tracing watermark allows dynamically evaluating the effective quality of the provided video services. This depends on the whole physical layer, including the employed video co/decoder. The performed method is based on the evaluation of the mean-square-error between the estimated and the actual watermarks. The proposed technique has been designed for application to wireless multimedia communication systems. According to the results obtained, the sensitivity of the detected tracing watermark on the quality of service (QoS) indices provides for some useful capabilities for analyzing future mobile Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) services.

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Signal Processing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:51 ,  Issue: 4 )