November 01, 2004
Open Standard Image Compression Software
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! JPEG2000 compliant image compression software is the new thing touted by companies offering image compression software, as per an effort by the OGC to get ISO compliant products standardized for the geospatial industry using the Geography Markup Language (GML). This week we profile LuraTech, a European image compression software company that is relatively new to the geospatial market but well known in the area of medical imaging.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Open Standard Image Compression Software

By Susan Smith

In September, the European company LuraTech, relatively new to the GIS industry, introduced what the company's press release said was, “the first open-standard image compression software that can compress a scanned color document down to one or two percent of its original size, keeping near-perfect image quality while vastly reducing storage and bandwidth costs.” The software, LuraDocument.jpm Version 2.0, is the first image compression software based on the JPEG2000/Part6 ISO open standard to be available on the U.S. market.

The company sells mainly two products: the abovementioned LuraDocument.jpm and LuraWave.jp2, which is an implementation of JPEG2000/Part1, and offers file sizes 1/3 the size of JPEG files.

Carsten Heiermann, LuraTech, Inc. President
“We deliver components, viewers, toolkits, and programming interfaces for open standards compression schemas, especially JPEG 2000/Part 1 for the geospatial industry and others, and LuraDocument.jpm for document management and scanned maps,” explained Carsten Heiermann, president of LuraTech Inc, managing director of the German headquarters and shareholder of the company.

The company was formed in 1995 in Berlin, Germany and has other European offices and one in the U.S. Before tackling the U.S. market, LuraTech decided to first go through the complete ISO standardization process with their former proprietary compression schemas (LuraTech and LuraDocument) to get ISO compliant products (which JPEG 2000 is) and sell them. Also their main market area was medical imaging, and have just recently taken on the geographic industry. For their medical customers, LuraWave.jp2is very good for xrays and microscopic imaging. They have a version of the software called LuraWave.jp2 GEO Edition for geospatial customers which includes the ability to do very quick overviews,
zooming and region decoding without having to decode completely, and access details in the imaging. GML support is included in the geo edition of the product.

“The demand in the geospatial industry at least in our home markets is increasing for ISO standard compliant products,” said Heiermann. “In Europe we have customers like the European Union Satellite Center, the European Space Agency and Daimler Chrysler.”

Customers in the U.S. are also demanding JPEG2000 compliant compression technology. ILS, International Land Systems has the GeoViewer, which customers have wanted to have JPEG2000 compliant. Consequently, the next version of GeoViewer will be able to handle all the JPEG2000 imaging, and make use of all the new JPEG2000 abilities LuraTech has. Quick overviews don't need any encoding, just a decoder. With GeoViewer, scrolling through gigabyte sized compressed images is very fast.

LuraTech was one of the founding members of the JPEG2000 committee. At that time, there were not that many members coming from the geospatial area as more people were electing to stick with their proprietary products. Some of those proprietary vendors are now involved in JPEG2000 but have not been involved in the standardization. “We brought some amendments to the JPEG2000,” said Heiermann. “One of our initiatives has been, under which marker does a JPEG2000 file have to be stored to be compliant? We also made suggestions together with other JPEG2000 vendors for a GML subset to fit into JPEG2000 files in order to detect where on the earth an image is. OGC has to agree on
the GML subset so
that we will have 100 % open standard or interoperable solution for the combination of GML and JPEG 2000. We have decided to support all four of the current proposals in our solutions until we know which will be supported. So you will get a JPEG2000 compressed file with GML inside.”

Companies approach LuraTech to embed JPEG2000 into their products. LuraTech has worked on establishing communication between ISO and OGC.

OGC is expected to get an agreement on the GML subsets sometime in May, so once this is done LuraTech can integrate GML into its software and also the other vendors providing JPEG 2000 can integrate it in their software, then customers will have solutions that are 100 % interoperable and follow 100 % open standards.

LuraTech believes that demand for JPEG2000 products began to increase two or three years ago when ESRI agreed to adopt it for their products. Satellite and aerial imagery also really increases demand. The standard has all the advantages of the former proprietary product but with the new faster capabilities.

LuraTech's products are SDKs with a defined interface where “you just put in uncompressed data and get compressed data out,” explained Heiermann. “We are really licensing developer kits.” For users who are just using viewers or components, the cost is $100/month. Those using the complete set of JPEG2000 functionality including distribution license and one time package, pay a one time payment of $8,400. This price offers complete flexibility of integrating JPEG2000 functionality for reading, writing and transmitting into your products without having to pay for compression volume or pay for installed seats.

Competitors LizardTech and ERMapper are either working on or have products that are JPEG2000 compliant. LizardTech has entered into an
agreement with Galdos Systems, both companies being OGC technical committee members, to jointly produce a GML implementation of JPEG2000. ERMapper has the ECW JPEG2000 SDK which is used to add large image support to applications.


Terra Image USA, LLC has been named the exclusive distributor of SPOT satellite imaging products and services to the U.S. civilian government market, including Federal, state and local government entities and U.S. universities. Terra Image USA is a joint venture of The Montecito Group and Iunctus Geomatics Corporation. Terra Image USA's Chairman, Joseph T. Gorman, is the former Chairman & CEO of TRW and also Chairman of The Montecito Group.

NAVTEQ and Autodesk, Inc. have signed a licensing agreement that enables carriers and other wireless service providers in North America to license NAVTEQ(TM) maps directly from Autodesk for integration into Autodesk's location platform and software. This agreement makes it possible for wireless service providers to create scalable, highly accurate and customized location solutions that can be easily integrated into wireless networks.

Trimble and Nextel Communications, Inc. announced that the companies will launch Trimble Outdoors service in time for the holiday season. The service is an online solution that enables customers to plan an outdoor adventure, share their trip with friends and family, and research trips taken by others, including reviewing routes and points of interest on street aerial, or topographic maps covering the continental U.S. and parts of Alaska and Hawaii.

CMC International has announced that it has been selected to join MapInfo's Predictive Analytics Partner Program. As a member of this elite program, CMC will be among a select group of partners being granted exclusive rights to resell MapInfo AnySite and AnySite Online, as well as MapInfo TargetPro and MapInfo's high-end modeling and predictive analytics services. In addition, CMC will receive specialized education and training for enhanced site location analysis leveraging MapInfo's predictive analytics technology.

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