The next generation tv
In recent years various technologies have been developed to make our experience of moving images more vivid. The flat screen TV with HD technology and 3D cinema, for example. Now a new technology emerges, allowing us to be immersed into the visual experience. Without glasses.
"Once everything is in place, the football fan at home will be able to see parts of the match from the goalkeeper's angle, or run alongside the left winger when he kicks that defence-splitting pass. A whole new visual experience," says Markus Flierl, researcher at the ACCESS Center and Associate Professor at the School of Electrical Engineering.
Free-viewpoint immersive telepresence, as the technology is called, promises not only depth of image, we will also be able to choose the desired experience at home from many possibilities.
"With 3D glasses, you can watch the scene from two angles – your right and your left eye – but the experience is limited to these two angles. With this new technology, we can immerse into the scene and choose the perspective ourselves. If you want to, you can look behind the shoulder of the person that you face," Flierl, who leads the development of the new technology at KTH, explains.
The project he is talking about is in collaboration with Ericsson, where KTH is working on achieving high quality of experience when transmitting this visual information to devices with special auto-stereoscopic screens. The technology and the screen together make the experience totally independent of glasses and controls.
The research team at the School of Electrical Engineering is also involved in an EU project which aims to show football matches using this new technology. It will be possible for viewers to use their regular television sets and computer screens together with controls and 3D glasses.
"We will be able to be at home and play the role of the film director. We will be able to choose where "our" camera will be placed on the pitch and how to follow the match," says Flierl.
The EU cooperation includes a number of companies that are working with everything from setting up cameras to offering viewers the complete service. For transmissions of this type, a much greater amount of information than usual is required. You need about 25 cameras, unlike the three or four that are normally used. This massive flow of information will then be transported via broadband to our televisions and computer screens. KTH's task is to ensure image quality.
When will broadcasting of this nature become reality?
"A group of experts is currently working on a standard for the technology, and my estimation is that the first version may be ready in 2013.”
A standard is a major step in the right direction, because it means that we, as with CD, DVD and MP3 today, will be able to use the same technology with different types of hardware and with hardware from different suppliers. But for the service to gain a greater market penetration, the quality has to be good enough and the price affordable. Just like with other technological innovations," says Flierl.
Today, no one knows exactly where the technology will be adopted first. The media industry is obviously ideally positioned. But companies may also regard the new technology as an opportunity to increase the quality of their video conferences and ultimately reduce travel and save time for their employees.
The EU hopes that the work spent on the football project will be of advantage for other activities, including surveillance and medical diagnosis.
For more information, contact Markus Flierl, email@example.com, 08-790-7425.
Text Ann-Charlotte Vallejo
Editor Marie Androv