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HyperImage – Image-Oriented e-Science Networks

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Warnke, M., Kuper, H.-G.-K., & Helmers, S. (2007). HyperImage – Image-Oriented e-Science Networks.

Images are an important source of scientific knowledge in many disciplines. E.g. you want to analyse satellite photographs or x-ray images of human livers or symbols of death in Dutch baroque paintings. You study the relevant images closely and compare details of one image with details of another. When you want to share your knowledge you will necessarily also communicate about image details. Using paper images, you can just mark up details of interest with a pencil. But with digital images you either have to make marks by employing an image manipulation software, which is not as widespread and easy to use as current text processing software is. Or you have to describe your findings verbally, such as "... above left is an interesting dark spot in picture No. 1 ... now compare it to picture No. 2 where a similar dark spot can be found nearly in the centre of the picture ..." and so on. Neither the employment of a complex image manipulation software package nor the time consuming and not very precise verbal description is satisfactory and appropriate for everyday use in science. Additionally, any technical solution to the lack of easy-to-use technology has to be Web-based in order to support collaborative research on images. The HyperImage project is concerned with the currently unsolved technical problem of establishing links between image details. Our goal is to develop a Web-based workspace that will enable scientists in any image-oriented discipline to create simple and precise links between images and image details, in a fashion similar to that which until now has been the privilege of text. The HyperImage editor permits scientists to mark details of pictures and create links between images and image details of any scale. It is programmed as a platform independent Java application and is open source (GNU Lesser General Public Licence). Any work in progress can be stored within the Hyper- Image system by an author or group of authors, or it can be exported as XML for further usage outside the HyperImage system. Currently we are testing our software prototype with our HyperImage partners from the faculties of Art History and Biology.