Saturday, November 17, 2007
There are a number of new TV technologies on the horizon that will serve to provide a lot of entertainment for technology buffs in the years and decades to come. One of these new technologies is a type of HDTV that goes beyond what we currently think of as high definition television. This technology has four times the resolution of current HDTV, a lot more total audio channels, and the same wide screen 16:9 aspect ratio. There are several different applications for this type of TV technology. One is the ability to display four separate channels of HDTV on the same screen all at once with no decrease in resolution. This could be extremely useful for people who want to watch multiple HDTV channels all at the same time and for various kinds of security and military applications. The ability to watch four separate High Definition images at the same time would allow security and intelligence officers to pick out all of the details that they need in order to monitor any situation. For example, with security an HDTV image would radically decrease any ambiguity when it comes to figuring out whether or not someone is guilty of shoplifting.
Of course, the more mainstream use for this type of technology will be taking advantage of the entire screen in order to deliver a very high quality picture to viewers. The experience of watching programming on the full screen mode using a prototype of this type of technology has been described as being so realistic as to cause vertigo and sometimes motion sickness. (Presumably, one would get used to this sensation.)
There are a number of technical problems with this type of steroid driven HDTV technology. The first being that it's extremely difficult to manufacture such a screen. The other problem is that it's not really feasible to create the kind of programming that does justice to the screen. For example, the uncompressed eighteen minute video clip used to demonstrate this technology requires a three terabyte hard disk to store it on. That alone makes this format extremely impractical.
Another problem with super HDTV is that there are other competing technologies that have a lot of benefits and may become available before it is. For example, there are already TV sets that are capable of producing three dimensional images. These devices typically create several different views of any given image and how the viewer sees these images depends on where he or she is standing in front of the screen. In different positions in front of the screen, different views will be visible because the screen is actually transmitting different images in different directions. The result is an image that the viewer can see from different angles when moving in front of the screen. Again, this technology has the problem of a lack of programming that does it justice, but there are also rapid advances being made in software that can convert two dimensional images from conventional programming into three dimensional images on the fly.
Three dimensional TV would certainly offer a big challenge to any type of HDTV, current or future.