Optimization of packetization masks for image coding based on an objective cost function for desired packet spreading


In image communication over lossy packet networks (e.g., cell phone communication), packet loss errors lead to damaged images. Damaged images can be repaired with passive error concealment methods, which use neighboring coefficient or pixel values to estimate the missing ones. Neighboring image data should, thus, be spread over different packets. This paper presents a novel robust packetization method for the transmission of image content in lossy packet networks. We first define novel criteria for a good packetization. Based on these properties, we propose a cost function for packetization masks. We then use stochastic optimization to calculate optimal packetization masks. We test our packetization technique on both wavelet coding and DCT coding. Compared to other packetization techniques, we are able to achieve the same or better mean quality of the reconstructed images but with less fluctuation in quality, which is important for the viewer experience. In this way, we significantly increase the worst case quality, especially for high packet loss rates. This leads to visually more pleasing images in case of a passive reconstruction.