8K Television Tests Wow Viewers
The transition from analog to digital TV opened our eyes to a world of vivid images that we now take for granted, but technology marches on, with the promise of something bigger and better always just around the corner. As consumer electronics companies lay the groundwork for a 4K television/video format that delivers four times the resolution of regular HDTV and prepare to roll out the first 4K TVs, an 8K format is already on the horizon.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK teamed with the BBC and Olympic Broadcast Services to test its Super Hi-Vision 8K television system at the 2012 Olympic Games and give the public an early look at a technology that delivers 33 million pixels, or 16 times more picture information than today’s HDTV, and 22.2 channels of surround sound. A groundbreaking 8K camera that’s the same size as a normal broadcast camera was used to provide live coverage of track and field, swimming, cycling, basketball, and the opening and closing extravaganzas. As part of the test, the 8K content was transmitted over IP networks, and several viewing sites were set up in the U.K and Japan. “You really do feel like you are in the stadium,” commented one viewer in London.
Broadcasters have used the Olympics Games to demonstrate emerging technology ever since the first radio broadcast at the 1924 Games in Paris. The 1948 Games in London were the first to be televised, color TV was demonstrated at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, and HDTV was previewed at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. A BBC executive who worked on the 8K project was quoted as saying, “It’s exactly like looking through a glass window. Most people say it’s more 3D than 3D. I think when people see it they will say, ‘This is the next really big format.’” No need to worry about another upgrade just yet. 8K technology is still 10 to 20 years away. NHK has said it hopes to start experimental broadcasting in Japan in 2020.