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UNIT 9 THE COMPUTER SYSTEM:

HARDWARE FOR EDUCATIONAL


COMPUTING
Structure
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Objectives
9.3 What is Multimedia?
9.4 Hardware Requirements
9.4.1 Central Processing Unit
9.4.2 Monitor
f 9.4.3 Sound Card
9.4.4 CD-ROM Drive
9.4.5 Laser Disc
r
9.5 Other Input/Output Devices
9.5.1 Keyboard and Mouse
9.5.2 Scanner
9.5.3 Touch Screens
9.5.4 Graphics Tablets
9.5.5 Camera
9.5.6 Speaker and Microphone

9.6 Audio Impact in Multimedia


9.6.1 Digitized Sound
9.6.2 Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)

9.7 Video Impact in Multimedia


9.8 Networked Multimedia
9.9 Let Us Sum Up
9.10 Unit-end Exercises
9.1 1 Answers to Check Your Progress
9.11 Suggested Readings

9.1 INTRODUCTION
Multimedia is a very important tool of information technology. We keep on hearing this term
not only from computer professionals, but also from the people associated with advertisemeht,
training, cinema and business. In this unit we will look into the utilities of multimedia in the
field of educational technology.
Traditionally computers have been put to use with text only. Computer uses binary digits
(0 and 1) to read a character. Every alphabet or number is converted into a series of binary
digits (0 and 1) so that computer can read it without ambiguity. In this manner computer could
process words or numbers so as to generate reports, solve equations and produce graphics
much faster than best of human brains. But whole computer technology changed drastic~lly
when the images and sound were introduced into the computer. The problem, which looks so
simple today, was to convert sound and images into binary digits. Whehthis could be solved
the next problem was storage space in a computer. Huge amount of storage space (memory)
was required to store the sound and images converted into binary digits. The arrival of
compact disk (CD) solved the space problem.
Introduction to Computers
in Education 9.2 OBJECTIVES
After going through this unit, you should be able to:
explain the term 'multimedia';
identify different hardware components required to run a multimedia;
appreciate the impact of audio in educational presentation;
describe how visual images, graphics and audio can be added to a presentation; and
enhance the capability of multimedia through interactive video impact.

9.3 WHAT IS MULTIMEDIA?


Multimedia is nothing but the processing and presentation of information in two or more
media. Thus multimedia can be an academic presentation, game or business application where
different media have been combined.A computer capable of handling text, sound, and animation
is called knultimedia computer. Thus multimedia refers to any combination of text, graphic art,
sound, animation and video elements delivered through a computer. Let us look at multimedia
from the user's point of view. If the user of a multimedia product can control the sequence
and timiag of these elements it is called interactive multimedia.
Multimedia has changed the entire information industry. It has replaced the professional video
production through high priced equipment and professional staff. Now you can produce audio-
visual material sitting at home through a multimedia Personal Computer (PC) at a much lower
cost. Technological advancement has been to such an extent that now a PC can control
external devices such as video recorder, videodisc player, compact disks, video camera and
musical instruments. There are computer softwares which facilitate generation of a sequence
of sound, video and images. Multimedia has become very helpful in the field of educational
research telated to information technology like sound, animation and text.

Fig. 9.1: Multimedia Computer


6
The Computer System:
Clearly Multimedia has a far-reaching impact in business education and entertainment. The Hardware For Educational
importance of multimedia is partly due to increased efficiency of the PC. The present day PCs Computing
are much faster in processing speed and much smaller in size than the old generation computers.
Another aspect is the decline in computer prices. PC prices have been going down at such
a rapid rate that it is well within the affordability of a household. Thus in coming days more
and more individuals will have PCs as just another household effect.

9.4 HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS


For producing multimedia you need hardware, software and creativity. In this unit we will
discuss the hardware requirements in a personal computer (PC) so that multimedia can
be developed. There are many components which are similar in an ordinary PC and a
multimedia PC. Hence we will focus on the additional parts that are special to a multimedia.
These are:
I. Central Processing Unit with MMX
2. Monitor with SVGA Card
3. Sound Card (-0 speakers withJwithout mike)
4. CD-ROM Drive
5. Camera
6. Sound is necessary if computer is not MMX features
7. Laser Disc
Some of the commonly found components have been described here.

9.4.1 Central Processing Unit (CPU)


A Central Processing Unit (CPU) is a necessary component in a computer. It can be
called the brain of the computer as it synchronizes all the activities of a computer such
as inputting of data, processing of data and memory management. The efficiency (in
common language, the speed of data processing) of a computer is judged by the efficiency
of the CPU. For a multimedia computer a Pentium processor is preferred because of higher
efficiency. The multimedia features can be supplied with 486 computers and onwards with
Introduction to Computers math coprocessor. You will need a minimum 8 MB RAM to run WINDOWS to edit large
in Education
images or video clips. But a 16 MB RAM is preferred as it enhances the capacity of multimedia
computer. Now the Pentium processor with MMX technology is available in the market.
which is designed particularly for multimedia. Tbe latest in the market is the Pentium 111
processors.

__C --

Fig. 93: Central Processing Unit

9.4.2 Monitor
Monitor looks like a television screen where you can see the outcome of your work. Generally
it displays 25 rows of text. The text or graphics in a monitor is just an arrangement of tiny
dots (called eels) . when you see a picture on the monitor you can visualise a combination
So
of pixels. To display any image or video clip the PC needs a graphic adapter. This controls
the individual pixels or tiny points on a screen that make up image. For multimedia PC the
monitor shodd have Super Video Graphics Arrays (SVGA) c d . The advantage of having a
SVGA aard is that the quality of graphics and pictures is better.

J3g. 93: M*
Now the PCs, which are coming to the market, are fitted with graphics card. That allows The Computer System:
images of upto 640 x 480 pixels to be displayed in upto 64,000colours. But SVGA card Hardware For Educational
Computing
increases the resolution to 800 x 600 pixels which is useful to display multimedia
presentations.

Ii 9.4.3 Sound Card


In the beginning we had mentioned that a computer reads only digits. Hence, sound is
converted into digits so that a computer can read and store it. At the time of playing it back
I
the digits are converted back to the same sound. In a computer any sound from a microphone
is converted into data that can be stored in the hard disk. This stored digital data can be
i converted back into sound. The part of the computer, which enables this, is called a sound
/I card. Sound card is fitted inside the PC. The most popular sound card is Sound Blaster. This
card enables the system to generate high quality of music and sound effect. It controls the
music played by the CD-ROM player. It supports Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)
4 as explained later, but does not display audio waveform for editing.

9.4.4 CD-ROM Drive


Before defining a CD-ROM drive let us discuss what a CD-ROM is. It is a magnetic disk
of 4.7inches diameter containing data recorded in it. It has a much bigger capacity in terms
of memory. It can contain upto 680 megabytes (MB) (1 MB = l(r bytes) of data. You require
a CD-ROM drive to run the CD-ROM. Let us look into the term ROM that stands for 'Read
Only Memory'. It simply means that you can read the material contained in it (as many times
as you like) but you cannot change its contents or in technical language 'write' on it. You
cannot save your own file onto CD-ROM. As CD-ROM disks are very small in size they are
portable. CD-ROMs have become an integral part of multimedia because they contain many
developer utilities like graphics, images and sounds, games and educational application
softwares. A CD-ROM can be read using different PCs controlled by different operating
systems. The necessary hardware component you require to read is a CD-ROM drive. Working

Ffg. 9.4: CD-ROM Drlve


Introductim toI Computers with CD-ROM disks is relatively easy compared to other information technology systems.
in Education Now-a-days CD-ROMs are being increasingly used because of its huge space and high speed
accessing data.
Recently computer technology has made tremendous progress. You can now have CDs which
can 'write once, redd many'. This means you can write your files in to a blank CD one time
through a laser beam. The written material can be read many times.
The device into which you place your CD-ROM disc is called a CD-ROM drive. It is an
essential component of multimedia Because it can run a CD which offers a huge storage
capacity.

9.4.5 LaSer Disc


It is popular as well as important source of video program. It works much like the CD-ROM.
It can playback any high quality of digital files. The difference between CD-ROM and laser
disc is that CD-ROM stores digital data on only one side whereas laser discs player is much
larger and doubled sided. Information on a laser disc is quicker and easier to find than
information on the videotape. But the big disadvantage of a laser disc is that. like CD, it is
a read-only source. You cannot record information on a laser disc .The laser disc can hold two
types of a d o information one is analog and other is digital. The analog audio is used for voice
commentary where as digital sound tracks is mostly used for the program's sound tracks.

9.5 OTHER INPUTIOUTPUT DEVICES


Now we w i l discuss some important inputtoutput devices attached to a multimedia computer.

95.1 Keyboard and Mouse


The standard input devices are keyboard and mouse. The keyboard is the most important input
device attached to all computers. The layout of keyboard is just like the traditional typewriter
of the type QWERTY.It contains some extra command keys and function keys thereby taking
the total number of keys to 101 or 104. Since multimedia uses a graphical user interface
(GUI) m o w is an essential input device. The mouse rolls on a small ball and has two or three
buttons on the top. When you roll the mouse across a flat surface the screen senses the mouse
in the direction of mouse movement. The cursor moves very fast with mouse giving you more
freedom to work in any direction. It is easier and faster to move across the screen through
a mouse. A standard mouse will do for multimedia The computer can recognise the electrical
signals corresponding to the correct key combination from a keyboard or clicking of a mouse
and promsing is done accordingly.

Fig. 9.5 Key- and M-


9.5.2 Scanner The Computer System:
Hardware For Educational
The keyboard can input only text through keys provided in it. If we want to input a picture Computing
the keyboard cannot do that. Scanner is an optical device that can input any graphical matter
and display it back. The common optical scanner devices are Magnetic Ink Character
Recognition (MICR), Optical Mark Reader (OMR) and Optical Character Reader (OCR).

9.5.3 Touch Screens


Touch screen is not used in day-to-day work in a multimedia. But it is very useful for
multimedia applications in kiosks or in a trade show. In it the monitor has a rough coating
across the glass surface. This coating is sensitive to pressure and movement of the user's
finger when it touches the screen. Here monitor works as an input device from where you can
give instructions to the multimedia PC. The computer recognises the finger location and takes
accordingly. For example, touching the screen twice in quick succession works as double
clicking of the mouse. Imagine how useful this will be for visually handicapped people who
can identify things by touching a surface.

9.5.4 Graphics Tablets


This is an ~nputdevice specially designed for graphic artists. It comprises a flat-surface, which is
pressure-sensitive, and a special pen used for drawing. In this device the user draws on the flat
surface with the specialized pen. The user can design finer details of a graphic through graphics
tablets. It provides such facilities that you can design a graphic on the computer, take a pnntout,
place it on the input surface and design it further by the pen.

9.5.5 Camera
Multimedia PC can support a digital camera. Many digital cameras such as Apple's Quick
Take, Dycam 10C, Kodak's DC40, Logitech Fotoman, etc. are available in the market. Most
of these cameras store (may be in a floppy disk) the photograph taken. These photographs can
be replayed directly from the camera into the PC. Once the image is saved in a computer
environment it can be easily transferred to other applications.

Fig. 9.6: Camera


11
Introduction to Computers 9.5.6 Speaker and Microphone
in Education
There is another important input device, namely, microphone. You can speak directly into a
microphone and the voice is incorporated into the multimedia. The sound speakers produce
sound output whereas microphone is used for on-line recording of sound.
". 2 .

9.6 AUDIO IMPACT IN MULTIMEDIA


In this section we will discuss how sound can be imported into the computer for use in the
development of multimedia. Also the PC should be capable of playing back the audio
information contained in a multimedia presentation. Incorporation of audio is one of the most
important features of multimedia. This feature is used frequently in academic presentations.
In the previous section we discussed the hardware components from which the computer can
receive sounds. There are two types of sound, which can be used in a multimedia. They are
dialogue in the form of human voice (dialogue, shrieks, etc.), instrumental notes (piano, drum
beats, etc.) and natural sound (clapping, movement of a train, etc.). While introducing audio
impact into multimedia one may use any combination of these three, e.g., soft background
music while the narration goes on or high notes of a guitar alongwith the roaring of the sea.
There are many ways in which these sounds can be incorporated into the computer. One,
human voice can be introduced into a computer directly through a microphone. Two, human
voice c@nbe introduced through replay of a pre-recorded cassette. Three, instrumental sound
can similarly be played directly from a musical instrument or replay of pre-recorded materials.
Thus, there are mainly two methods of introducing sound. One, directly from the source and
two, pre-recorded medium like cassettes. The sound transmitted from these sources is of
analog nature. As mentioned in the introduction to this unit, this sound has to be digitized
so that the computer can read it.
9.6.1 Digitized Sound The Computer System:
Hardware For Educational
You might have known that sound travels in a waveform. In the upper panel of Figure 9.7 Computing
we have given such a sound wave. This waveform is analog, as it is continuous. Suppose we
want to digitize it. So what we do is, we take sample sounds at a particular interval, the
interval being fraction of a second. Thus, for each second we take the sound at a number of
points. The location of the sample points varies according to the original sound wave. The
middle panel of Figure 9.7 shows the sample points taken from the original sound wave.
Computer saves these sample points in a digital form is a file. While playing it back the
computer regenerates a sound waveform from these sample points saved in the file. The lower
panel of Figure 9.7 gives the reconstructed sound wave from the sample data. Note that the
reconstructed sound is not exactly equal to the original sound. How far the reconstructed
sound matches the original sound c'epends upon the frequency at which the sample data is
taken. However, the higher the sampling frequency higher is the memory space required.

. . .. . .. . . . . .'

. . . Sampled Data

.,'
. ...' .;
,.a,..,
r
.... ..
0..
.: .....
. ...
:
......
.. . ... .
..
+
.,.
2 :
i '

...a "0.
,, f '*. $ "t
. .. .. . . . ./' Reconstructed Waveform
. . . . ...*
/
.i ....
"q..
:
'.
........<.,
".....O..' .....,/

Fig. 9.7: Digitised Sound Waveform

9.6.2 Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)


The pre-recorded digital sound consumes a lot of hard disk space. You can imagine how
much space is required for a multimedia presentation by the fact that 1-minute of standard
quality digital recording can occupy up to 10.5 MB of memory. Thus using an audio file
will be quite expensive in terms of memory space. Secondly, pre-recorded sound available
! in cassettes may not be of good quality. Thirdly, very often creativity requires some originality
and you may need to record your own sound from the instruments. Because of these we
require to connect an electronic musical instrument (through a cable) to the PC. This is
possible through the musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) which is an interface
attached to the sound card.
MIDI provides a protocol (a set of rules) so that details of a musical note from an instrument
can be communicated to the computer. But remember that MIDI data is not digitized sound.
Quality recording of digital audio depends upon the sound system. The quality of MIDI data
depends upon the quality of musical instrument and the sound system. A MIDI file can be
considered as a list commands. For example, pressing of a piano key can be represented as
a computer command. When this command is sent to the MIDI device it will result in a sound
from the piano. Thus MIDI can be considered as a short hand representation of musical notes
which are translated in to actual sound from the musical instrument. No doubt, MIDI file will
I
occupy a much smaller space compared to digitized sound. Another advantage of MIDI data
is that it is completely editable. You can manipulate MIDI composition of music, which is
Introduction to Computers impossible with digitized sound. The major disadvantage of MIDI is that it cannot handle
in Education
.
spoken
. . . . .
dialogue.
.-..- -- ........
. .iic;h 'r'rb:pn- :+cjgrl.:;s
.
................ .-.-
...
.- -

9.7 VIDEO IMPACT IN MULTIMEDIA


---

. - -

The finial thing in multimedia presentation is use of video images. These images may be
recordings from a video camera, shots from a film or a video clip. The video clips may also
contain some dialogues or sound effects. You combine these video images with the audio, text
and graphics. Incorporation of video is more important and complicated than other multimedia
technology. You can procure video clips from various sources or you can go for outdoor video
shooting. Thus it needs expensive equipment to record video clips. But once you have recorded
video clip, then you can play it back without needing any special equipment.
Now let us discuss how the computer uses a video clip. The computer reads a particular video
clip as a series of still pictures called frames. Thus video clip is made of a series of separate
frames where each frake is slightly different from the previous frame. The computer reads
each frame as a bitmap image. Generally there are 15 to 25 frames per second so that the
movement is smooth. If we take less frames than this the movement of the images will not
be smooth.
You know that bitmap images generally take more memory space in a disk. Generally, a high-
resolution video image occupies 1 MB of memory. Thus having 30 images per second will
occupy 30 MB of memory space. If we calculate at this rate, 108 gigabytes of memory space
will be required to save 1 hour of video. Another problem is that the PC should be capable
of transferring data at a rate of 30 MB .per second, which is impossible. Typical h ~ disk
d
drives transfer data of about 1 MB per second only. The data transfer from a CD-ROM is
much less than this. Thus the major problem of including video in a multimedia presentation
is finding some way out to manage memory space and data transfer.
To cut down the space there are several modem technology in windows environment. Essentially
these technologies compress the video image so that less space is required. Video compression
technologies such as JPEG, MPEG, P*64, etc., compress digital video information at the
range of 50: 1 to 200: 1. Compression at the rate of 50: 1 means that 50 MB of video memory
will require only 1 MB of memory. '
Now we will discuss what are the hardware requirements for video in Multimedia. For
digitizing images the computer is fitted with a video card. This card is generally fitted into The Computer System:
an expansion slot inside the PC. A normal video camera or a VCR is connected to the video Hardware For Educational
Computing
card. With the help of this card you can watch the picture. Beside the hardware you need
software also, which we will discuss in the next unit. The video card with the help of
graphics adapter displays the video images. Now it is possible to display television picture
on the computer through a video digitizing board. This serves as an addition source of video
clips.
Video for w~ndowsstores the video frames in a file format called audio-video interleaved
(AVI). Once you have recorded a video clip as a standard AVI file, you can play it back or
include it in your multimedia presentation. Video clips are normally stored in the AVI file
format. These can be played back on any PC and do not need special hardware. Once you
have the raw'or initial recording on to your PC, you can edit it to make necessary changes
through appropriate software.
As you know computer captures images as still frames. If the PC displays around 30 frames
in a second, it creates animation effect. Another technique that is similar to animation is called
morphing. This is rather like generating in-between images between the start image and the
end image. If the two images are different the software works out a sequence of steps so that
the first image appears to change gradually into the second image. You will learn more about
this in the next unit.

9.8 NETWORKED MULTIMEDIA


Very often, a multimedia project is a joint effort of writers, graphics artist, programmer and
musician. The wark group members located at different places. It is possible to collaborate
them through computers, if they are connected on a computer network.
It may be noted that compultrs can communicate with one another in a network. There are
two types of network depending upon the distance at which the computers are located. If
computers are placed at a short distance, say in the same building, it is called local area
network (LAN). LAN transmits data with a speed of several megabits per second. But normally
the transmission medium is coaxial cables. Generally LAN is used for text processing, electronic
message handling, personal computing and digital voice transmission.

teacher's microcomputer
with w m , disk storage andprinter

\
-
student microcmputen
with screens and
keyboards

Fig. 9.8: A Local Area Network (LAN)


The term wide area netowork (WAN) is used to describe a computer network spanning a
regional, national or global area. The distance between computers connected to WAN is
larger. The common examples of WAN are computerised railway ticket reservation system
while LAN examples are seen in many institutions using computerised systems..Therefore the
transmission medium used are normally telephone lines, satellite links and microwaves.
Generally, WAN is used for centralized information system, remote data entry and
communication facility.
Introduction to Computers
in Education Subnet Host N
f

Host 1 -

Transm~ssion
lines

Routers
L
1 J
Host 2

Fig. 9.9: A Wide Area Network (WAN)


For efficient communication between members of the workgroup, the members rely upon a
computer network. This saves time and facilitates instant interaction among the numbers. For
the multimedia PC to be connected to a network you require a hardware component called
modem, As multimedia file contains graphics, audio resources and video samples the modem
speed should be comparatively higher. Getting an Internet connection to the PC provides a lot
of multimedia resources at your disposal.

, I

I I

9.9 LET US SUM UP


In this unit we explained the concept of multimedia. Multimedia PC is nothing but a computer
capablp of working in more than two media. Sound, images, graphics and texts are the
importsnt media that a computer can process. In this unit we discussed various hardware
requirements for a multimedia PC. By now you must have known that a PC can receive
picturas directly from a camera or can scan a photograph through a scanner. Also it can
generate a sequence of sound of desired notes through the MIDI.
The Computer System:
9.10 UNIT-END EXERCISES Hardware For Educational
---- -

Computing
1. Select a topic from the subject(s) you have been teaching in the school. Plan a multimedia
presentation on this topic. Discuss your plan with your peers at school or in the study
center. Write a report in about 1500 words of the plan, your experiences with respect to
this activity.
Some of the points you could include are:
use of multimedia and selection of topic
number of content points
duration of the presentation
selection of media like audio-visual aspects
other method you like
2. Organise a discussion on the topic 'Use of multimedia in classroom teaching'. Write the
major points evolved in the discussion.

9.11 ANSWERS TO CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


1. Computer uses binary digits (0 and 1) to read a character or number. Every alphabet or
number is converted into a series of binary digits. Each of these values (that is 0 and 1)
is called a bit. Each of the alphabets (a, b, c, .....) and numbers (1,2, 3, .....) is represented
by a 8-bit character (called byte). Thus the computer reads the message in the form of
110101 .....
2. Multimedia refers to a combination of text, graphics, sound, animation and video elements
delivered through a computer. It is a very important tool for presentation. It is not only
essential for computer professionals, but also useful for the people associated with
advertisement, training, cinema and business.
3. i) Scanner is an optical device that can input any graphical matter and display it back.
The common optical scanner devices are Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR),
Optical Mark Reader (OMR) and Optical Character Reader (OCR).
ii) Photographs can be replayed directly from the camera into the PC. Once the image
is saved in a computer it can be easily transferred to other applications. Many digital
cameras such as Apple's Quick Take, Dycam 10C, Kodak's DC40, Logitech Fotoman
are useful for multimedia PC.
iv) In touch screen the monitor has a rough coating across the glass surface. This
coating is sensitive to pressure and movement of the user's finger when it touches
the screen. Here monitor works as an input device from where you can give
instructions to the multimedia PC.
V) It comprises a flat surface, which is pressure-sensitive, and a special pen used for
drawing. In this device the user draws on the flat surface with the specialized pen.
The user can design finer details of a graphic through Graphics Tablets. This is an
input device specially designed for graphic artists.
4. Sound travels in the form of waves. These waves are in analog, as it is continuous. For
transmission of these waves through first we need to digitize it. For this purpose we take
sample sounds at a particular interval, the interval being fraction of a second. Thus, for
each second we take the sound at a number of points. The location of the sample points
varies according to the original sound wave. Computer saves these sample points in a
digital form in a file. While playing it back the computer regenerates a sound waveform
from these sample points saved in the file. Thus original sound is reconstructed from the
sample data.
5. MIDI file occupies a much smallei space compared to digitized sound. Another advantage
of MIDI data is that it is completely editable. One can manipulate MIDI composition of
music, which is impossible with digitized sound.
6 . For including video in multimedia we require the following hardware components:
i) normal video camera or VCR, ii) video card, iii) graphic adapter.
Introduction to Computers 7. If computers are placed at a short distance it is called local area network (LAN). LAN
in Education
transmits data with a speed of several megabits per second. But normally the transmission
medium is coaxial cables. Generally LAN is used for text processing, electronic message
handling, personal computing and digital voice transmission. The distance between
computers connected to WAN is larger. Therefore the transmission medium used are
normally telephone lines, satellite links and microwaves. Generally, WAN is used for
centralized information, remote data entry and communication.

9.12 SUGGESTED READINGS


Cawkell. Tony. (1996): The Multimedia Handbook, Routledge, London.
Collin, Simon. (1995): Multimedia Made Simple, Asian Books, New Delhi.
Vaughan, Tay. (1996): Multimedia: Making it Work, McGraw-Hill.