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HDR signals a brighter future for television

CTO office reflection: Since the commercial introduction of color in the early 1950s, the standards for television have gone through major improvements in terms of image resolution: SD, HD, UHD (4K). Brightness and color, however, have remained at the level of old-style CRT TVs rather than attempting to match the capabilities of the human eye.

The introduction of High Dynamic Range (HDR) will change all this. The peak brightness of a HDR display is up to 100 times brighter than before and it is also possible to have darker blacks and improved contrasts in both dark and bright areas. The resulting images are not only more realistic but they can also be appreciated at long viewing distances where increased resolution is no longer perceived by the eye.

Several standardization bodies, such as SMPTE and ITU, have been working on different aspects of HDR focusing on “better pixels” rather than “more pixels”. Along with MPEG, Ericsson has carried out extensive tests to show that High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) provides state-of-the-art compression for HDR. As a result of these efforts, the main building blocks used together with HDR include the following:

  • HEVC (for more efficient compression)
  • Wide Color Gamut (for more colors)
  • High Frame Rate (for sharper motion)
  • High Bit Depth (for smoother nuance shifts)

During 2016, all of these components have been included in the emerging standards and guidelines for HDR television by the Ultra HD Forum, DVB, and ATSC, as well as for Blu-ray. Here, Ericsson has played a major role in ensuring convergence and that the television standards work with existing broadcast environments.

Watching TV

Thanks to HDR consumers will enjoy high-quality, premium television. Content providers will have more opportunities to reach the audience.

If you want to read more about HDR, here are some useful links:

HDR research blog post

Proudly announcing awards
Pioneering Research into HDR wins Connected TV Award
2015 NAB Best Paper Award for pioneering work in HDR video

Ericsson White Paper on Ultra High Definition television (UHDTV)

HDR standard set

An overview of the Ultra HD Forum Guidelines

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