The Ultra HD Forum has released new unified guidelines for the deployment of ultra-high-definition services. The group says it demonstrates the maturity of 4K UHD. The forum also notes the development of 8K as a promising technology and plans to include it in future versions of its guidelines. One forecast suggests that there will be over 50 million homes worldwide with an 8K television in 2025, when sales will pass 30 million a year.
“For the first time, we are releasing a unified guidelines document, illustrating UHD maturity,” said Madeleine Noland of LG Electronics, who chaired the production of the guidelines document. “In it, we describe ‘foundation’ UHD technologies, as well as ‘enhancements’ that are backward compatible so they will add value to setups that support them, but still, look and sound great on foundation equipment.”
While the UHD Phase A Guidelines were focused on UHD technologies that were commercially deployed as early as 2016, the Phase B Guidelines document focuses on the next generation of UHD technologies. They include high dynamic range systems, high frame rate delivery, and next generation audio.
The forum acknowledges 8K as a promising future technology and plans to work on its inclusion within future versions of its guidelines.
“8K is not at the same state of maturity as 4K, and not widely deployable without further development and advances in the ecosystem,” noted Thierry Fautier, the president of the Ultra HD Forum.
“Our immediate interest is in 4K and HD resolution-based services and technologies, but the forum continues to monitor the development of 8K video as it may relate to television production and distribution, including leveraging 8K production and display technologies within a 4K distribution system.”
The forum notes that NHK has been transmitting 8K commercially since the end of 2018, in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. NHK is using HEVC compression with streams of 100 Mbps.
It may be several years before 8K, or UHD-2, becomes more widely adopted in distribution. In the meantime, it will pay a role in production, while 4K, or UHD-1, becomes more mainstream.
Strategy Analytics forecasts that from just half a million 8K televisions to be sold worldwide in 2019 there will be 56 million homes with an 8K television by the end of 2025, when annual sales will reach 31 million. While that number remains relatively small, it will be significant for television manufacturers and retailers.