i3 | September 20, 2017

2017 CT Hall of Fame: Dr. Chiariglione and Dr. Yasuda

Stewart Wolpin

Team that Developed MPEG to be Inducted on November 7, in New York

The Consumer Technology Hall of Fame honors visionaries who have made a significant impact on the consumer technology industry. These leaders and entrepreneurs have laid the foundation for the technologies, products, services and apps that are improving lives around the world.

Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione and Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda will be inducted along with 10 other industry leaders at an awards dinner on Tuesday evening, November 7, at the Rainbow Room in New York. Over the next several weeks, i3 will highlight this prestigious class. Please join us for the awards dinner as we celebrate this extraordinary group of honorees. Register for the dinner today.

Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione

HDTV has many parents, but the efforts to birth the next-generation TV standard started with the necessity of compressing thick high-resolution digital video signals into seemingly impossibly narrow broadcast delivery pipes. The solution was the MPEG-2 video compression standard, one result of MPEG – the Motion Picture Experts Group – goaded into existence and guided by Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione, known today as "the father of MPEG."

Chiariglione's leadership of MPEG resulted not only in MPEG-2, but MPEG-1, which includes the MP3 music compression format, and MPEG-4, now the de facto video compression standard for digital video recording in smartphones, camcorders and digital cameras. Versions of MPEG are included in nearly every digital media device extant, resulting in an industry worth several billions of dollars.

Chiariglione was born on January 30, 1943, in a village near Turin, Italy. His father, Giuseppe, was a carpenter, and his mother, Teresa, a shopkeeper. Chiariglione earned his electronic engineering master's degree from the Polytechnic of Turin (1967), then his Ph.D. at the University of Tokyo (1973). Before he left Italy, he learned Japanese, the last of the five languages he has mastered. This linguistic dexterity proved invaluable in his drive toward a global video compression standard produced in the multi-cultural MPEG environment.

In March 1971, Chiariglione took a job at CSELT, the Turin-based corporate research center of the Telecom Italia group, now known as the Telecom Italia Lab. His work on a "videophone" project triggered his interest in global video standards.

Chiariglione convened the International Workshop on HDTV, targeted at promoting the technical aspects of HDTV, in 1986. In May 1988, Chiariglione persuaded Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda, then heavily involved with JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), to help him convene a group to formulate universal digital video compression standards – MPEG. MPEG meetings soon began to attract 300 members from 25 countries and from more than 100 companies in consumer electronics, computers, broadcasting and telecommunications.

Initially, MPEG work focused on the video storage capabilities of the CD, which led to the development of the draft MPEG-1 standard in September 1990. Even before the standard was finalized in November 1992, software, multimedia boards and chips implementing MPEG-1 were already available, establishing a technology that took off in Asia, especially in China, where hundreds of millions of MPEG-1 video CD decoders have been sold.

At an MPEG meeting in Sydney, Australia, in April 1993, MPEG's "main profile" for digital TV coding –MPEG-2 – was adopted. Three months later, MPEG-2 was recommended as the compression scheme by the Grand Alliance standard for HDTV, then mandated by the FCC as part of the completed HDTV standard in December 1996. Numerous additional MPEG standards soon followed.

While acknowledged as a visionary, attentive to detail and for his ability to keep collaborators focused, Chiariglione also stressed that MPEG has been a collective effort, its success due largely to MPEG's expert "horsepower" and charismatic leaders in many MPEG activities.

MPEG's work has been awarded four Emmys and Chiariglione has received several other awards including the IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award (2012). In 1999, Chariglione was named one of Time Magazine's Digital 50 most important people shaping technology.

Chiariglione rose to vice president of multimedia at CSELT/Telecom Italia Lab before leaving the company in 2003. He still leads MPEG and several other entrepreneurial multimedia companies and non-profits from his home near Turin, Italy, where he lives with his wife.

Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda

Few people have so deeply impacted how we visually reproduce the world today as Dr. Hiroshi Yasuda. As an original participant of the development of JPEG and chairman of the International Standards Organization (ISO) multimedia coding standardization subcommittee, Yasuda shepherded the development of multiple universal multimedia compression formats.

Yasuda received his B.E., M.E. and Dr.E. degrees from The University of Tokyo in 1967, 1969 and 1972, respectively, then joined the Electrical Communication Laboratories of NTT in 1972. In 1969, he met an engineering doctoral student from Italy at The University of Tokyo, Leonardo Chiariglione.

On March 7, 1986, Yasuda was part of a small group that met in Boston to form the precursor to JPEG –the Joint Photographic coding Experts Group (JPEG), an organization Yasuda pushed to formalize in Parsippany, NJ, eight months later by the ISO and the CCITT (Consultative Committee for International Telephony and Telegraphy), now known as the ITU-T (The International Telecommunication Union-Telecommunication standardization sector). As convener of ISO SC2/WG8, one of the “parents” of the JPEG working group, Yasuda made many important contributions toward the JPEG-1 standard.

Yasuda was one of three dozen engineers to meet in Copenhagen in June 1987 to narrow down 10 proposed JPEG techniques to three. In January 1988 in Copenhagen, Yasuda helped to decide on a single approach. For the next few years, Yasuda helped further refine and narrow down technical methods and determine a final JPEG international standard.

At a JPEG-related meeting in Houston, TX, in May 1988, Yasuda approached and helped his friend, Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione to create a group to formulate a universal compression standard for digital video – the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG). Yasuda offered to put some Japanese engineers in touch with Chiariglione. MPEG meetings soon began to attract 300 members from 25 countries and from more than 100 companies in consumer electronics, computers, broadcasters and telecommunications.

Several other (often competitive) multimedia coding standard efforts began to emerge in the mid- to late-1980s, and Yasuda fought to bring them all under a single existing sub-committee umbrella. In December 1991, Yasuda succeeded and was elected chairman of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29, responsible for coordinating the development of numerous multimedia coding efforts and the adoption of JPEG-1, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 in 1992-93. Yasuda served as chairman of SC29 until 1999, during which time consumer digital photography and digital video were introduced and became popular, thanks largely to Yasuda's leadership in developing universal multimedia standards.

After 25 years at NTT, finally as a director at NTT Information communication laboratories, he joined The University of Tokyo in 1997, serving as director of the Center for Collaborative Research (CCR) from 2003-2005, retiring in March 2007. He also served as the President of DAVIC (Digital Audio Video Council) from September 1996 to September 1998. In April 2007, he joined Tokyo Denki University as its General Media Center Director. After serving in several positions, he was named university president in 2016.

Yasuda has received numerous awards including the Achievement Award of IEICE (The Institute of Electronic Information and Communication Engineers) in 1995, the 2000 Charles Proteus Steinmetz Award from IEEE, and the Medal with Purple Ribbon from the Emperor of Japan in spring 2009. He also has written several books on the standardization of multimedia coding. Under his chairmanship, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29 was awarded a 1995-96 Emmy/technical engineering award for JPEG, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 from The Television Academy of America.

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