Novel Variants of a Histogram Shift-Based Reversible Watermarking Technique for Medical Images to Improve Hiding Capacity.
In telemedicine systems, critical medical data is shared on a public communication channel. This increases the risk of unauthorised access to patient's information. This underlines the importance of secrecy and authentication for the medical data. This paper presents two innovative variations of classical histogram shift methods to increase the hiding capacity. The first technique divides the image into nonoverlapping blocks and embeds the watermark individually using the histogram method. The second method separates the region of interest and embeds the watermark only in the region of noninterest. This approach preserves the medical information intact. This method finds its use in critical medical cases. The high PSNR (above 45 dB) obtained for both techniques indicates imperceptibility of the approaches. Experimental results illustrate superiority of the proposed approaches when compared with other methods based on histogram shifting techniques. These techniques improve embedding capacity by 5-15% depending on the image type, without affecting the quality of the watermarked image. Both techniques also enable lossless reconstruction of the watermark and the host medical image. A higher embedding capacity makes the proposed approaches attractive for medical image watermarking applications without compromising the quality of the image.