MPEG-7 is a multimedia content description standard. It was standardized in ISO/IEC 15938 (Multimedia content description interface). This description will be associated with the content itself, to allow fast and efficient searching for material that is of interest to the user. MPEG-7 is formally called Multimedia Content Description Interface. Thus, it is not a standard which deals with the actual encoding of moving pictures and audio, like MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. It uses XML to store metadata, and can be attached to timecode in order to tag particular events, or synchronise lyrics to a song, for example.
It was designed to standardize:
- a set of Description Schemes ("DS") and Descriptors ("D")
- a language to specify these schemes, called the Description Definition Language ("DDL")
- a scheme for coding the description
MPEG-7 is intended to provide complementary functionality to the previous MPEG standards, representing information about the content, not the content itself ("the bits about the bits"). This functionality is the standardization of multimedia content descriptions. MPEG-7 can be used independently of the other MPEG standards - the description might even be attached to an analog movie. The representation that is defined within MPEG-4, i.e. the representation of audio-visual data in terms of objects, is however very well suited to what will be built on the MPEG-7 standard. This representation is basic to the process of categorization. In addition, MPEG-7 descriptions could be used to improve the functionality of previous MPEG standards.With these tools, we can build an MPEG-7 Description and deploy it. According to the requirements document,1 “a Description consists of a Description Scheme (structure) and the set of Descriptor Values (instantiations) that describe the Data.” A Descriptor Value is “an instantiation of a Descriptor for a given data set (or subset thereof).” Neither automatic nor semiautomatic feature extraction algorithms are inside the scope of the standard because their standardization isn’t required to allow interoperability.
The MPEG-7 (ISO/IEC 15938) consists of different Parts. Each part covers a certain aspect of the whole specification.
|Part||Number||First public release date (First edition)||Latest public release date (edition)||Latest amendment||Title||Description|
|Part 1||ISO/IEC 15938-1||2002||2002||2006||Systems||the architectural framework of MPEG-7, the carriage of MPEG-7 content - TeM (Textual format for MPEG-7) and the binary format for MPEG-7 descriptions (BiM)|
|Part 2||ISO/IEC 15938-2||2002||2002||Description definition language|
|Part 3||ISO/IEC 15938-3||2002||2002||2010||Visual|
|Part 4||ISO/IEC 15938-4||2002||2002||2006||Audio|
|Part 5||ISO/IEC 15938-5||2003||2003||2008||Multimedia description schemes|
|Part 6||ISO/IEC 15938-6||2003||2003||2010 (2011)||Reference software|
|Part 7||ISO/IEC 15938-7||2003||2003||2010 (2011)||Conformance testing|
|Part 8||ISO/IEC TR 15938-8||2002||2002||2010||Extraction and use of MPEG-7 descriptions|
|Part 9||ISO/IEC 15938-9||2005||2005||(2011)||Profiles and levels|
|Part 10||ISO/IEC 15938-10||2005||2005||Schema definition|
|Part 11||ISO/IEC TR 15938-11||2005||2005||MPEG-7 profile schemas|
|Part 12||ISO/IEC 15938-12||2008||2008||(2011)||Query format|
Relation between description and content 
An MPEG-7 architecture requirement is that description must be separate from the audiovisual content.
On the other hand there must be a relation between the content and description. Thus the description is multiplexed with the content itself.
On the right side you can see this relation between description and content.
MPEG-7 tools 
MPEG-7 uses the following tools:
- Descriptor (D): It is a representation of a feature defined syntactically and semantically. It could be that a unique object was described by several descriptors.
- Description Schemes (DS): Specify the structure and semantics of the relations between its components, these components can be descriptors (D) or description schemes (DS).
- Description Definition Language (DDL): It is based on XML language used to define the structural relations between descriptors. It allows the creation and modification of description schemes and also the creation of new descriptors (D).
- System tools: These tools deal with binarization, synchronization, transport and storage of descriptors. It also deals with Intellectual Property protection.
On the right side you can see the relation between MPEG-7 tools.
MPEG-7 applications 
There are many applications and application domains which will benefit from the MPEG-7 standard. A few application examples are:
- Digital library: Image/video catalogue, musical dictionary.
- Multimedia directory services: e.g. yellow pages.
- Broadcast media selection: Radio channel, TV channel.
- Multimedia editing: Personalized electronic news service, media authoring.
- Security services: Traffic control, production chains...
- E-business: Searching process of products.
- Cultural services: Art-galleries, museums...
- Educational applications.
- Biomedical applications.
Software and demonstrators for MPEG-7 
- Caliph & Emir: Creation and Retrieval of images based on MPEG-7 (GPL).
- img(Rummager): Open Source implementation of the MPEG-7 descriptors in C#.
- Frameline 47 Video Notation: Frameline 47 from Versatile Delivery Systems. The first commercial MPEG-7 application, Frameline 47 uses an advanced content schema based on MPEG-7 so as to be able to notate entire video files, or segments and groups of segments from within that video file according to the MPEG-7 convention (commercial tool)
- Eptascape ADS200 uses a real-time MPEG 7 encoder on an analog camera video signal to identify interesting events, especially in surveillance applications, check the demos to see MPEG-7 in action (commercial tool)
- IBM VideoAnnEx Annotation Tool: Creating MPEG-7 documents for video streams describing structure and giving keywords from a controlled vocabulary (binary release, restrictive license)
- iFinder Medienanalyse- und Retrievalsystem: Metadata extraction and search engine based on MPEG-7 (commercial tool)
- MPEG-7 Audio Encoder: Creating MPEG-7 documents for audio documents describing low level audio characteristics (binary & source release, Java, GPL)
- XM Feature Extraction Web Service: The functionalities of the eXperimentation Model(XM) are made available via web service interface to enable automatic MPEG-7 low-level visual description characterization of images.
- TU Berlin MPEG-7 Audio Analyzer (Web-Demo): Creating MPEG-7 documents (XML) for audio documents (WAV, MP3). All 17 MPEG-7 low level audio descriptors are implemented (commercial)
- TU Berlin MPEG-7 Spoken Content Demonstrator (Web-Demo): Creating MPEG-7 documents (XML) with SpokenContent description from an input speech signal (WAV, MP3) (commercial)
- MP7JRS C++ Library Complete MPEG-7 implementation of part 3, 4 and 5 (visual, audio and MDS) by Joanneum Research Institute for Information and Communication Technologies - Audiovisual Media Group.
- BilVideo-7: MPEG-7 compatible, distributed video indexing and retrieval system, supporting complex, multimodal, composite queries; developed by Bilkent University Multimedia Database Group (BILMDG).
- UniSay: Sophisticated Post-production file analysis and audio processing based on MPEG-7.
See also 
- Metadata standards
- Query by humming
- MPEG-4 Part 11 - Scene description and application engine
- Multimedia Information Retrieval
- Material Exchange Format (MXF), a container format for professional digital video and audio media defined by SMPTE.
- B.S. Manjunath (Editor), Philippe Salembier (Editor), and Thomas Sikora (Editor): Introduction to MPEG-7: Multimedia Content Description Interface. Wiley & Sons, April 2002 - ISBN 0-471-48678-7
- Harald Kosch: Distributed Multimedia Database Technologies Supported by MPEG-7 and MPEG-21. CRC Press, January 2004 - ISBN 0-8493-1854-8
- Giorgos Stamou (Editor) and Stefanos Kollias (Editor): Multimedia Content and the Semantic Web: Standards, Methods and Tools. Wiley & Sons, May 2005 - ISBN 0-470-85753-6
- Hyoung-Gook Kim, Nicolas Moreau, and Thomas Sikora: MPEG-7 Audio and Beyond: Audio Content Indexing and Retrieval. Wiley & Sons, October 2005 - ISBN 0-470-09334-X
- ISO. "ISO/IEC 15938-1:2002 - Information technology -- Multimedia content description interface -- Part 1: Systems". Retrieved 2009-10-31.
- MPEG. "About MPEG - Achievements". chiariglione.org. Retrieved 2009-10-31.[dead link]
- MPEG. "Terms of Reference". chiariglione.org. Retrieved 2009-10-31.[dead link]
- MPEG. "MPEG standards - Full list of standards developed or under development". chiariglione.org. Retrieved 2009-10-31.[dead link]
- NetworkDictionary. "Complete Protocol dictionary, glossary and reference - M". Retrieved 2009-12-26.
- ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29 (2009-10-30). "MPEG-7 (Multimedia content description interface)". Retrieved 2009-11-10.
- ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 (2004-10). "MPEG-7 Overview (version 10)". chiariglione.org. Retrieved 2009-11-01.