Multimedia is the use of several different media to convey information (text, audio, graphics, animation, video, and interactivity). Multimedia also refers to computer media.

As the information is presented in various formats, multimedia enhances user experience and makes it easier and faster to grasp information. Presenting information in various formats is nothing new, but multimedia generally implies presenting information in various digital formats. It is also used in visual arts to describe works created using more than one medium.

Multimedia finds its application in various areas including, but not limited to, art, education, entertainment, engineering, medicine, mathematics, and scientific research. In education, multimedia is used to produce computer-based training courses (popularly called CBTs) and reference books like encyclopedias and almanacs. A CBT lets the user go through a series of presentations, text about a particular topic, and associated illustrations in various information formats.

An electronic multimedia encyclopedia can present information in better ways than a traditional encyclopedia, so the user has more fun and learns more quickly. For instance, an article on World War II can include hyperlinks to articles on countries involved in the war. When users click on a hyperlink, they are redirected to an detailed article about that country. In addition, it can include a video on the Pacific Campaign. It can also present maps pertinent to World War II. Hyperlinks let a user access information in a non-linear fashion as opposed to print materials which are essentially linear. (It is said that our brains think in a non-linear way.) This can speed-up learning and improve the user experience, when added to multiple elements such as pictures, photos, audio and video. (It is also said that some people learn better by seeing than reading and some others by listening).

Multimedia is heavily used in the entertainment industry, especially to develop special effects in movies and animation for cartoon characters. Multimedia games are a popular pastime and are software programs available either as CD-ROMs or online. Some video games also use multimedia features.

Multimedia applications that allow users to actively participate instead of just sitting by as passive recipients of information are called Interactive Multimedia. An example are interactive multimedia games. For instance, users can play a simulated multimedia soccer match without actually being on the field. The simulation is just an illusion, but it makes the users think that they are playing a real match. The environment is created by using controls like joysticks and sensors and by using media output devices like headsets and goggles. The various multimedia components are coordinated with a technique called virtual reality. They provide an environment which is experienced by users as similar to reality. This technique is used in some arcade games and also in flight simulators, to impart training to pilots, without having to go for a real flight.

In engineering, especially in mechanical and automobile engineering, multimedia is primarily used for designing a machine or an automobile. This lets an Engineer view a product from various perspectives, zoom in on critical parts and do other manipulations, before actually producing it. This is known as computer-aided design (CAD).

In Medicine, doctors can get trained by looking at a virtual surgery (without it actually being performed) or they can simulate how the human body is affected by diseases spread by viruses and bacteria and then develop techniques to prevent the same.

In Mathematical and Scientific Research, multimedia are mainly used for modelling and simulation. For example, a scientist can look at a molecular model of a particular substance and manipulate it to arrive at a new substance.

In the Arts there are multimedia artists, whose minds are able to blend techniques using different media that in some way incorporates interaction with the viewer. One of the most relevant could be Peter Greenaway who is melting Cinema with Opera and all sorts of digital media.

See also

External links

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