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QUICKSCAN Indexed-Video Electronic Publishing
IDATE paper P.2


In the simplest visible mode, a QUICKSCANŽ service provider assembles any combination of stillframe and running video, much like a videodisc master tape. During an editing process, unique indexing information is applied, usually at the bottom and top of the screen. Typically this will consist of Name [of publication], Date [of publication], and QUICKSCANŽ Page number. The top strip is available for chapter headings, and menus or index pages are inserted as described earlier.

Note, however, that the page number relates the contents of the page, not simply to the videotape frame or videodisc track. Thus, in an optimum system, a stillframe/page exists in the system for one field or frame, and relies on highly precise capture and display hardware. In a more forgiving system, the page exists for multiple frames, say from three to 25 or 30 frame (one second). By trading off efficiency in this fashion, many more VCRs can access a specific page by number. In the most universal case, running video and pseudo-stillframes of five seconds or longer duration are indexed, so that virtually any VCR can locate segments of interest.

This master tape is then duplicated or transmitted via TV, cable or DBS to the intended audience, possibly during overnight dark hours or on under-utilized satellite or cable channels. The users capture the electronic publication on their VCRs, and play it back at a time and pace of their choosing.

In computer terms it is downloading or batch delivery, as opposed to an on-line system. Thus, millions of users can access their locally taped material at the same time, without congesting a system or experiencing delays in response, caused by a shortage of lines or ports.

The information storage capacity of video, when used as electronic microfilm, is amazing. For example, in PAL, experience indicates that +800 alphanumeric characters can be display per screen. Transmitted at 1500 frames per minute, this means that 1.2 million characters can be stored in a minute's worth of videotape. Alternatively, 1500 color photos of reasonable quality, or a mixture of text and picture can be substituted. Of course, sound and motion segments take realtime amounts of tape.

Thus, a complete still-frame newspaper or catalogue could be downloaded within a television commercial. With typical fast-forward speeds of x10, the worst-case access time is six seconds per minute of tape. For many uses, this compares favorably with on-line performance when keyboarding, response and display writing times are included, especially for photographic quality images.

Observers may question the need to scroll through a tape to find desired information. In fact, this is exactly the browsability lacking in systems based on precise go-to functions. An advertiser wants accidental exposure to his message, just as in print media or commercial TV. So, QUICKSCANŽ restores the familiar advertisement/editorial relationship, and permits sponsored services, delivered free to the user.

In NTSC, lower resolution changes some parameters, but the capacity per minute remains about the same. Because redundancy is at the pixel level, no error detection system is required.

The list overlaps many of those targeted by other electronic media. However, because there is already a critical mass of VCRs in public hands, and because closed user groups can be equipped with optimum devices off-the-shelf, QUICKSCANŽ has advantages for uses which require timely delivery to many users, but do not involve inputting, or manipulation of remote information.

Free public services, both stillframe and running video:
Photo-classified advertising. Video newspapers and magazines. Shopping catalogues. Listing services for real estate, vehicles, etc. Video and cinema previews. Educational and training tapes. Wanted-persons files.

Closed User or Pay Services:
Bulk image storage and transfer, including the following: credit card slips and bank check verification; mug shots and fingerprints; parts catalogues; look-files for aerial or space images; newspaper morgue photos.

QUICKSCANŽ can also store very large, less volatile, mainly text databases such as encyclopedias, abstracts and other videodisc or compact disc type products. (Each hour of tape equals 90,000 photos, or 72 million characters.) The competitive advantages are different in these cases.