A fundamentally new approach to imaging

Penned on the 2nd day of November, 2019. It was a Saturday.

I’m working on something for ÔÇô today that I don’t yet have the privilege of sharing. But of the array of features that engine hopes to provide, I think it’s by far the most powerful feature of all, and it’s definitely the most exciting for me personally. My husband says I have made “something amazing” here, and I really feel it! I believe it needs patenting, too. This is a fundamentally new way of creating pictures – I’m so excited I can barely contain myself.

There was once a Dutch electronics engineer who claimed to have this revolutionary ‘compression’ technology, and he made these outrageous claims that he could compress massive amounts of media data into the span of kilobytes. He was signing contracts with tech titan big whigs of the time, until he suddenly died of a heart attack. No one managed to recover his code, and it has never been reproduced or verified since then. His name was Jan Sloot, his system was called the Sloot Digital Coding System, and I believe I have independently rediscovered what he created, under the name OAM.

Object Attribute Memory is the name for a new approach to the representation of images in real-time contexts (primarily video games). It derives from an eponymous memory construct provided by the Nintendo® Game Boy Advance™, which in turn was originally derived from the Picture Processing Unit of the Ninendo Entertainment System (“PPU OAM”). ÔÇô’s OAMs are, simply put, a way to describe the construction of an image instead of describing it in arbitrary terms of raster, vector or otherwise.

From Sloot’s Wikipedia article:

In March 1999, the system was demonstrated to Roel Pieper, former CTO and board member of Philips. Pieper resigned from Philips in May 1999 and joined Sloot's company as CEO, which was re-branded as The Fifth Force, Inc. […] Perkins and Pieper would have proceeded after Sloot's death, but a key piece of the technology, a compiler stored on a floppy disk, had disappeared and, despite months of searching, was never recovered.

Roel Pieper is quoted as saying (translated from Dutch):

It is not about compression. Everyone is mistaken about that. The principle can be compared with a concept as Adobe-postscript, where sender and receiver know what kind of data recipes can be transferred, without the data itself actually being sent.
—Roel Pieper

I cannot fully describe how this works until I have made the demonstrations and secured the system. Even so, it is complicated and novel enough that much of what I speak is unconvincing. This is the nature of science. My proof is the program itself, nothing less.

The problem with the often-cited “not compression” allegories is that they fail to capture the magnitude of this technology. This works for all kinds of image data. There’s no reason it can’t be expanded into 3D. If I were to describe how powerful it is more eloquently, I would say it is a method of creating pictures like how we create music. All of the songs that could ever be played derive from a fixed number of notes. This doesn’t use abstractions like pixels, and it also doesn’t approach pictures like objects either.

In my work applying Data-Oriented Design to video games, I often ask, “if this data is absent, why leave space for it anyway?” This is the common ground shared between OAM and compression in general, but OAM approaches it with far more conceptual vigour.

This is a computer translation of a part of the article on Jan Sloot’s website. You can read the original Dutch if you prefer.

A minimal explanation of how the invention could work is at the end of one piece from Quote to which Netwerk itself refers. It seems that the films by Sloot were made up of 370 MB of basic effects, so that in advance in the playback device had to be present, just like a sound card with a few MBs must have samples to be able to play music in the form of MIDI files to play. In graphic language: a kind of vector technique.

But still. If you consider that one photo in TV resolution is hundreds of KBs, it is very unlikely that you could ever build all the movies made from one 370 MB memory (the equivalent of a thousand individual frames) of images sound material. When you consider that even a simple tune in MIDI form a few kB it is unimaginable that one feature film, image and sound, would be this way can be reduced to 64 kB, let alone dozens of films in that space would fit.

—Roel Pieper

I believe it is possible to use this system to render, in the same realism, the black hole from Interstellar, using nothing more than a home computer. Originally it took a massive render farm, as it simulated some of Einstein’s equations to produce the output. OAM can take that sort of math and simplify it greatly, plugging in a lot of variables we can assume without compromising our own perception, and use this greatly simplified math to create the picture, and nothing more.

For market contextualisation, we can create a video game using this, published to all the major platforms, and then create a special backport to consoles of two generations prior, with no loss in quality or performance whatsoever. Compare with the landing page text (see original Dutch) on Jan Sloot’s website:

The Sloot Digital Coding System (SDCS) would shake up the world: a new alphabet for digital information storage that no longer uses the binary system of zeros and ones, but uses a much more efficient method.

The principle was apparently simple. Just as there is only a limited number of characters available for a piece of text, a film is made up of a finite number of colors and sounds. All these basic data were stored in 5 different memories in 5 algorithms. When storing films, each algorithm would have a maximum size of 74 megabytes. A total of 370 megabytes: the engine of the invention. The only thing needed to start it was a suitable key. Ditch calculated a unique code for every page of a book, or every image of a film, the whole of which also resulted in a unique code. The last code, the key, only took one kilobyte of memory, regardless of the length of the film or the thickness of the book. In this way, dozens of keys could be stored on one simple chip card. For example, someone could, against payment, obtain the keys of a number of films within a few seconds with a mobile phone to view them at home via a player with the basic algorithms. In short, a technology with unimaginable potential for creative destruction.

All sound-bearing industries—CD, DVD, tape, diskette—would not exist long. Nor do companies that invest billions in fiber optic networks. The old copper wire would suddenly be worth gold again. The same applies to mobile phones. And what about all conceivable forms of consumer electronics that produce images and sound or other information? Nothing would stay the same. Roel Pieper concluded that the company with the licenses for SDCS would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

—Roel Pieper

I mean it quite literally when I say that no one has any reason to believe me, short of demonstration. I cannot truthfully say I know all of these inside and out, but from everything I have hashed out so far, I have been confirmed time and again that this is probably the same system Jan Sloot created in the 1990s. Once I complete the program—which serves as my proof, mathematically—I will know, and the world will too. By then I will have a lot of important things to do besides. You should hear more from me soon on this!

Until next time,
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