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Does the ITU want 3D or not?

By PETER WHITE

Published: 8 June, 2012

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The ITU needs to give a clear view about what is needed next in HD TV manufacture - is it 3D or is it Ultra HD?

This is a valid question, because the ITU has just attempted to breathe fresh life into both. In 3D it has come out with new recommendations for evaluating 3D TV image quality and depth, enabling viewers to adjust images for comfort. The proposals cover 3DTV program production and broadcasting in the two formats that are widely used right now, 720p and 1080i, as well as 1080p. The ITU has also published new interfaces for 3DTV program production, and a recommendation for the methods to evaluate the quality of 3DTV images, which relates to three aspects, or quality factors - picture quality, depth, and comfort levels.

But at virtually the same time the ITU has also overshadowed its own 3D efforts by coming out with new standards for UHDTV (Ultra High Definition TV) at the same time. Although this is further off than 3D, awareness of the potential has been raised by demonstrations at various trade shows, and has generated increasing interest. The ITU has decided to cover both 4K and 8K under the ultra HD banner, in multiples of the existing 1080p standard, which is only beginning to succeed 720p and 1080i. The result is that variants such as Quad Full HD (QFHD, or 3840x2160 resolution) and Digital Cinema 4K resolution (4096x2160) both fall under the ambit of 4K. 8K doubles up again in each dimension to resolution 7680x4320 high, which is 16 times greater in spatial resolution than 1080p.

There is a danger that TV set makers will divert their focus on investment more towards new 2D display technologies involving frameless panels and variable sized pictures in ultra HD. Pay TV software vendors are pulling CE makers this way, such as NDS with its Surfaces technology designed to exploit flexible frameless displays.

Depending upon which route TV manufacturers go down, there are different problems to solve. If it is UHDTV then how on earthy are we going to find enough bandwidth to send this over any kind of broadcast scheme or over the internet, seems to be the first problem.

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