Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 77, Issue 7, pp 8019–8041 | Cite as

High-quality blind watermarking in halftones using random toggle approach

  • Yung-Yao Chen
  • Wei-Sheng Chen


This paper presents a blind watermarking method for embedding large data into halftone images. Watermarking in ready-to-print halftones is desirable in printer applications such as authentication and document/image security. It is challenging to embed large information into halftones, while maintaining high image quality. In this paper, we first review a series of halftone watermarking methods that embed data by using Embedding Toggle (ET) in the selected positions. We find that such ET-based methods have two shortcomings: 1) the image quality is limited because of the unknown input data and randomly selected embedding positions, and 2) the selected embedding positions must be recorded to retrieve the hidden data. To tackle the above disadvantages, this study makes two improvements. First, we propose a random toggle approach, in which the embedding positions are movable. Therefore, after the data are embedded, each dot can still be shifted to the most appropriate position to improve the image quality. Second, a self-decodable even/odd parity checking scheme is proposed to embed one bit information in each image block. We also propose a new search strategy, called Swap-Only Block-Based (SOBB) search. By integrating SOBB search with the direct binary search method, the image quality can be greatly improved without damaging the hidden data. From experimental results, the proposed method demonstrated sufficient robustness and excellent image quality.


Digital halftoning Digital watermarking Image/document security Printer application Direct binary search (DBS) Data hiding 



This work was supported in part by the Ministry of Science and Technology (104-2221-E-027-032).


  1. 1.
    Analoui M, Allebach J (1992) Model-based halftoning using direct binary search. In: Proceedings of SPIE, Human Vision, Visual Processing, and Digital Display III, vol 1666, pp 96–108Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Baqai F, Lee J, Agar AU, Allebach J (2005) Digital color halftoning. IEEE Signal Process Mag 22:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bulan O, Sharma G, Monga V (2010) Orientation modulation for data hiding in clustered-dot halftone prints. IEEE Trans Image Process 19:2070–2084MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fu M, Au O (2000) Data hiding by smart pair toggling for halftone images. In: Proceedings of IEEE International Conference Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP), pp 2318–2321Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fu M, Au O (2000) Data hiding for halftone images. In: Proceedings SPIE, Security and Watermarking of Multimedia Contents II, pp 228–236Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fu M, Au O (2001) Data hiding in halftone images by stochastic error diffusion. In: Proceedings of IEEE International Conference Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP), pp 1965–1968Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fu M, Au O (2002) Data hiding watermarking for halftone images. IEEE Trans Image Process 2:477–484Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Guo J, Lai G, Wong K, Chang L (2015) Progressive halftone watermarking using multilayer table lookup strategy. IEEE Trans Image Process 24:2009–2024MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Guo J, Pei S, Lee H (2012) Watermarking in halftone images with parity-matched error diffusion. Signal Process 91:126–135CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Guo J, Su C, Liu Y, Lee H, Lee J (2012) Oriented modulation for watermarking in direct binary search halftone images. IEEE Trans Image Process 51:4117–4127MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Guo Y, Au O, Fang L, Tang K (2011) Data hiding in halftone images by dual conjugate error diffusion. In: Proceedings of Asia-Pacific Signal and Information Processing Association Annual Summit and Conference (APSIPA ASC), pp 18–21Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Guo Y, Au O, Tang K, Pang J, Sun W, Xu L, Li J, Zhang X (2013) Data hiding in error diffused color halftone images. In: Proceedings of IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS), pp 2996–2999Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Guo Y, Au OC, Tang K, Pang J (2014) Hiding a secret pattern into color halftone images. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 465–474Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Guo Y, Au OC, Zhou J, Tang K, Fan X (2016) Halftone image watermarking via optimization. Image Commun 41(C):85–100Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kacker D, Allebach J (2003) Joint halftoning and watermarking. IEEE Trans Signal Process 51:1054–1068MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kim H, Afif A (2004) A secure authentication watermarking for halftone and binary images. Int J Imaging Syst Technol 14:147–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kim J, Chen Y, Fischer M, Shacham O, Staelin C, Allebach J (2011) Data hiding for halftone images. In: Proceedings of IEEE International Conference Image Processing (ICIP), pp 1733–1736Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Li P, Allebach J (2004) Tone-dependent error diffusion. IEEE Trans Image Process 13:201–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Lieberman D, Allebach J (2000) A dual interpretation for direct binary search and its implications for tone reproduction and texture quality. IEEE Trans Image Process 9:1352–1366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Lien B, Lin Y (2011) High-capacity reversible data hiding by maximum-span pairing. Multimed Tools Appl 52:499–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Liu J, Shieh HA (2011) Toward a two-dimensional barcode with visual information using perceptual shaping watermarking in mobile applications. Opt Eng 50:1–11Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Näsänen R (1984) Visibility of halftone dot textures. IEEE Trans Syst, Man Cybern 14:920–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nguyen TS, Chang CC, Hsueh HS (2016) High capacity data hiding for binary image based on block classification. Multimed Tools Appl 75(14):8513–8526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Olmos A, Kingdom F (2004) A biologically inspired algorithm for the recovery of shading and reflectance images. Perception 33:1463–1473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Parah SA, Ahad F, Sheikh JA, Bhat GM (2015) On the realization of robust watermarking system for medical images. In: Proceedings of IEEE India International Conference Electronics, Energy, Environment, Communication, Computers, Control (INDICON), pp 1–5Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Parah SA, Akhoon JA, Sheikh JA, Loan NA, Bhat GM (2015) A high capacity data hiding scheme based on edge detection and even-odd plane separationt. In: Proceedings of IEEE India International Conference Electronics, Energy, Environment, Communication, Computers, Control (INDICON), pp 1–5Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Parah SA, Ashraf S, Asharf A (2015) Robustness analysis of a digital image watermarking technique for various frequency bands in dct domain. In: Proceedings of International Conference Symposium Nanoelectronic and Information Systems, pp 57–62Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Parah SA, Sheikh JA, Ahad F, Loan NA, Bhat GM (2015) Information hiding in medical images: A robust medical image watermarking system for e-healthcare. Multimedia Tools and Applications, pp 1–35Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Parah SA, Sheikh JA, Assad UI, Bhat GM (2015) Hiding in encrypted images: A three tier security data hiding system. Multidimensional systems and Signal Processing, pp 1–24Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Parah SA, Sheikh JA, Bhat GM (2014) A secure and efficient spatial domain data hiding technique based on pixel adjustment. Amer J Eng Technol Res 14:33–39Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Parah SA, Sheikh JA, Hafiza AM, Bhat GM (2014) A secure and robust information hiding technique for covert communication. Int J Electron 102:1253–1266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Parah SA, Sheikh JA, Hafiza AM, Bhat GM (2014) Data hiding in scrambled images: A new double layer security data hiding technique. Comput Electr Eng 40:70–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Parah SA, Sheikh JA, Loan NA, Bhat GM (2016) Robust and blind watermarking technique in dct domain using inter- block coefficient differencing. Dig Signal Process 53:11–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Podilchuk C, Delp E (2001) Digital watermarking: algorithms and applications. IEEE Signal Process Mag 18:33–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Sharma G, Wang S (2004) Show-through watermarking of duplex printed documents. In: Proceedings of SPIE, Security, Steganography, and Watermarking of Multimedia Contents VI, vol 5306, pp 670–681Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ulichney R (1987) Digital Halftoning. MIT Press, USAGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Ulichney R (1993) The void-and-cluster method for dither array generation. In: Proceedings of SPIE, Human Vision, Visual Processing and Digital Display IV, vol 1913, pp 332–343Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ulichney R (2000) A review of halftoning techniques. In: Proceedings of SPIE, Color Imaging: Device-Independent Color, Color Hardcopy, and Graphic Arts V, pp 378–391Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ulichney R, Gaubatz M, Simske S (2010) Encoding information in clustered-dot halftones. In: Production of IS&T NIP 26 (26th International Conference Digital Printing Technologies), pp 602–605Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Wang Z, Bovik A, Sheikh H, Simoncelli E (2004) Image quality assessment: from error visibility to structural similarity. IEEE Trans Image Process 13:600–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Wu X, Ou D, Liu J, Sun W (2012) Data hiding in halftone images with homogeneous distribution of embedding positions. Opt Eng 51(3):1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Yan X, Wang S, Niu X, Yang CN (2015) Halftone visual cryptography with minimum auxiliary black pixels and uniform image quality. Dig Signal Process 38 (C):53–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Institute of Automation TechnologyNational Taipei University of TechnologyTaipei CityRepublic of China

Personalised recommendations