Back in the day the standard was set by the DVD format in the 1990s. Its growth was unprecedented and before long it became the most successful format in the history of consumer electronics. A short time later HD enjoyed a similar level of rapid adoption with literally millions of Americans upgrading their TVs from big, bulky tube TVs, to those sexy, slim-profile bright LCD televisions in a matter of no time.
A similar story could develop shortly with the increasing momentum behind the 4K/UltraHD format. Just prior to CES 2016 the research firm IHS Inc., released a study that states by 2019 one-third of U.S. homes will have 4K TVs. Helping to spur on this rate of adoption of 4K are several announcements that emanated from the CES show that are designed to make the products more accessible and affordable, while also educating the public on the benefits of 4K in the home.
Not including the major product announcements from companies such as Sony, Samsung, LG and others, the biggest pieces of 4K news that could drive adoption is the adoption of the UHD Alliance’s Ultra HD Premium specification, and LG’s work with the ATSC to air 4K content.
The Alliance’s specification is the result of a collaborative effort between manufacturers, film studios, content studios and technology companies. The specification includes a logo that is reserved for products and services that comply with standards for resolution, high dynamic range (HDR), peak luminance, black levels, color gamut and other metrics.
“This diverse group of UHDA companies agreed that to realize the full potential of Ultra HD, the specs need to go beyond resolution and address enhancements like HDR, expanded color and ultimately even immersive audio,” says Hanno Basse, president, UHD Alliance. “The criteria established by this broad cross section of the Ultra HD ecosystem enables the delivery of a revolutionary in-home experience, and the Ultra HD Premium logo gives consumers a single, identifying mark to seek out so they can purchase with confidence.”
LG is also helping to foster the adoption of 4K by working with the Advanced Television Standards Committee (ATSC) to broadcast the new ATSC 3.0 Candidate Standard that includes the implementation of HDR content.
Broadcasting from KHMP Channel 18 in Las Vegas, the station is transmitting an experimental signal through a special license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) using technologies developed by LG.
“We are proud that LG technology is behind the majority of the elements of the Physical Layer transmission system,” says Dr. Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer, LG Electronics. “ATSC 3.0 is a collaborative effort among many broadcast technology experts, and LG technology is part of at least 10 of the 15 building blocks of the new Candidate Standard.”
Digging deeper into 4K technologies, Technicolor says that it is working with System-on-Chip (SoC) companies such as Marvell, MSTAR, Sigma and STMicroelectronics to include Technicolor HDR delivery technology. Technicolor says these working agreements facilitate the integration of its HDR technologies into their devices.
Arguably the most well known chip company besides Intel, Texas Instruments (TI) is also promoting 4K at CES. During the show TI announced a 0.67-inch 4K UltraHD micromirror device (DMD). TI explains the new chipset combines fast switching speeds and image processing, and it enables projection systems to achieve up to 5,000 lumens of brightness. The new chip will be applicable for residential and commercial products, and TI points out it makes the implementation of 4K-based projection systems more affordable.
The last piece of the 4K puzzle is connectivity. Supporting the transmission of 4K and HDR is the HDMI cable format. HDMI Licensing says that there are now 1,700 HDMI adopters, and nearly 60 percent of those adopters have licensed its HDMI 2.0a protocol. HDMI Licensing says its 2.0a standard supports all the latest A/V technologies, including 4K and HDR, and the group is already looking ahead to support the next generation of A/V formats.
“The current 2.0a technology delivers stunning audio and video experiences for consumers, and it is the mission of the HDMI Forum to continually evolve and drive the next generation of HDMI specification,” states Robert Blanchard, president of the HDMI Forum. “The next version of the HDMI specification targets 8K resolution, enhanced High Dynamic Range, and other important features such as delivering power over the interface to products such as streaming media sticks.”