Japan’s NHK showcases TV of the future

Japanese public broadcaster NHK’s OpenHouse 2010 showcase kicked off yesterday. Among the innovations on show was a series of demonstrations on “context aware TV”, as reported yesterday by European Broadcasting Union (EBU), new 3D technology that does not require glasses, high-speed, high-capacity optical disks for archiving and holographic recording technology.

Context aware TV, as demonstrated by NHK, includes the ability of the TV to identify viewers via face recognition technology, as well as recognition of objects in the room in front of the TV and the presentation of a choice of programming that it thinks the viewer will want to watch.

Viewers can choose programmes by pointing their fingers at the relevant spot on the onscreen EPG. If the viewer picks up a book or newspaper, the TV goes into pause mode. It is also possible, the EBU reports, to ask questions of the TV orally (such as who a particular actor is), and obtain a reply if the answer is available in the show’s metadata.

Other key demos at OpenHouse 2010 include “hybridcast” service combining broadcast and broadband-delivered applications and “integral 3D TV”. The latter is based on integral photography using lens arrays to capture and display 3D images. According to NHK, this reduces position errors of the lens arrays and compensates for distortion in the projected elemental images. The resulting image on a 3D screen does not require special glasses and allows the viewer to move horizontally and vertically and still see the images. By using full-resolution Super Hi Vision technology, the system can display 3D images having 400 × 250 pixels, according to NHK.

NHK and Ricoh also demonstrated very-high capacity optical disks that can store 2.5TB of content, suitable for NHK’s Super Hi-Vision HD format, and holographic recording technology that store very large amounts of data and record Super Hi-Vision signals.

Earlier this week Fujitsu announced that it had developed new codec equipment for systems transmitting Super Hi-Vision video, with resolution 16 times higher than Japan’s current Full Hi-Vision video. The codec equipment utilises the H.264 format that can efficiently compress the vast amounts of image data that SHV produces at a rate of 60-frames per second, claimed as a world’s first, enabling efficient transmissions via broadcasting networks or IP connections. According to Fujitsu, this new device achieves double the compression efficiency of existing equipment, and due to more efficient inter-frame predictive processing, it also results in higher video quality for the whole system.