A 4K/Ultra HD Update: 18 Months Later
By now, you’ve probably heard the hype about 4K, also known as Ultra HD, which made its mainstream debut at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). 4K is a new video format that offers four times the resolution of HD (3840 x 2160 instead of 1920 x 1080). In recent months, major television manufacturers have been heavily promoting 4K technology and many have introduced 4K monitors. To support this movement, RGB Spectrum offers a feature-packed multiviewer, the SuperView 4K, which enables multi-windowed displays of UHD/HD content on compatible 4K monitors.
4K technology has applications in many different market areas: broadcast, digital signage, corporate boardrooms, as well as security, military and medical displays. To assess the direction that 4K technology is headed, let’s consider some recent developments in 4K implementation.
Throughout the year, and continuing into CES 2014, the buzz surrounding 4K has been non-stop. If you walk into any electronics store, you’ll see 4K televisions that deliver an incredible eight megapixels of resolution, often at an equally incredible price. At the low end are smaller models that come in at under $600. A mid-range television will set you back a few thousand, while industrial quality 84” monitors are available for around $15,000.
As the technology has become more mainstream (and generally more affordable), 4K products are being deployed in a wide range of applications. For example, Fox Sports Network is using 4K cameras and replay systems for football games and other sports telecasts. These enable zooming in on a particular area of the action without losing resolution, resulting in higher clarity and a superior viewing experience compared to regular HD television.
In the digital signage market, there is a growing realization that one large 4K monitor may be superior to a 2x2 video wall of narrow bezel monitors. With a 4K monitor, advertisers get the same resolution as a 2x2 wall without the visual inconvenience of the monitor bezels, and at a comparable price-point. Our SuperView 4K multiviewer, like a video wall processor, enables a range of creative layout possibilities.
4K is also making inroads in the boardroom. As businesses replace HD projectors with 4K projectors and monitors, they gain a dramatic increase in brightness, clarity and visibility. The result is an impressive installation that makes a statement. The higher resolution provided by 4K displays combined with the multi-windowing capabilities of 4K multiviewers enable enhanced collaborative workflows for decision-making, as well as improved videoconferencing.
For operations centers, control rooms and other security applications, operators rely on high-resolution visuals and video feeds to enable them to monitor a range of factors and facilities. More and more companies are developing ultra high-resolution surveillance cameras that provide security operators with the sharpest, most precise imagery possible. With 4K-compatible display processors and monitors, operators can view this imagery without downscaling, and can zoom in farther without affecting clarity. This enables them to better monitor and analyze system resources and respond to potentially critical situations.
Many military applications require the visual clarity and precision of 4K technology. 8 Megapixel (4K) monitors and RGB Spectrum’s 4K multiviewer are ideal for a number of different applications including vehicle, vessel and airborne consoles, mobile command centers, tactical operations centers, and UAV ground control stations. Ruggedized monitors developed specifically for military applications enable the use of 8 megapixel displays in even the harshest environments.
Finally, one of the most compelling applications of 4K imagery is in the medical industry. Doctors and medical technicians should have access to the highest-resolution imagery possible to make accurate decisions about patient care. The advent of 4K monitors certified for use in surgical suites is revolutionizing the operating room enabling the simultaneous display of patient data, vital signs, video from the surgeon’s forehead mounted camera, video from endoscopes and other instruments, etc. A 4K monitor working with a multiviewer provides 8 megapixels of resolution to display all kinds of data.
The real advantage of a 4K display may have little to do with 4K imagery, but rather with the usefulness of 8 megapixels of resolution to display multiple images simultaneously without downscaling. RGB Spectrum’s SuperView 4K multiviewer allows users to manipulate native 4K images, a combination of 4K and high-definition video, or up to eight graphic or video windows (scaled or unscaled) on a single 4K monitor.
4K monitors and multiviewers offer significant advantages over older technology. Applications in various markets are capitalizing on these benefits, suggesting that 4K is here to stay.