HDMI Licensing, LLC

HDMI Licensing, LLC, of Sunnyvale, California, promulgates the HDMI specifications. In 2009, they published the new HDMI 1.4 that was discussed in Appendix A5. HDMI cabling is typically used between the STB or BD player and the TV display. This upgrade has been viewed as one of the key developments to enable 3DTV. Of all the new HDMI 1.4 features, 3D is reportedly getting the most interest from the broadcasters.

The HDMI 1.4 work grew out of interactions between the HDMI Licensing group and a related working group in the CEA that owns CEA 861. There are improvements expected with new silicon interface chips as these support higher transfer rates on the interface, but the short-term goal is also to have existing equipment be as functional as possible because without HDMI support, one cannot readily deploy 3DTV. The HDMI Licensing group is also relaxing its specifications so that many existing STBs and TVs do not have to handle a variety of previously mandatory formats, often beyond their processing capabilities or needs. Instead, they can handle stereo 3D broadcasts in the top/bottom format with a firmware upgrade.

Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)

The CEA is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $172 billion US consumer electronics industry. More than 2000 companies are members of the CEA, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, and the fostering of business and strategic relationships.

At recent CEA Industry Forums (2009), the focus has been on consumer electronics retail trends (e.g., changes in channel dynamics), 3DTV technology, green technology, and social media. CEA takes the (tentative) position that the 3DTV technology is demonstrating clear success at movie theaters and will gradually evolve into other facets of consumers’ viewing habits. But the guidance is that the industry needs to have reasonable expectations for 3DTV. 3DTV is gaining momentum, as covered in this text, but may not completely reach critical mass for several years. CEA recently observed that the top trends and technologies likely to prominently feature at upcoming international CES events are as follows: interactive TV topped the list as a trend to watch with a variety of partnerships, widgets, menus, and new ways to manage content across screens likely to generate “buzz” at upcoming CES trade shows; and 3DTV also will be a big trend, with the question of whether 3D glasses or an alternative solution will emerge as the most viable option. E-books and Netbooks were also highlighted as top 2010-and-beyond CES trends [17].

CEA is developing standards for the interface for an uncompressed digital interface between (say) the STB (called source) and the 3D display (called sink); these standards will need to include signaling details, 3D format support, and other interoperability requirements between sources and sinks. In 2008 CEA started standards work aimed at enabling home systems to play stereoscopic 3DTV. The group’s first step was to upgrade the interconnect standard used in the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) to enable the cable/interface to carry stereo 3D data. Specifically this entailed an upgrade of the CEA 861 standard (A DTV Profile for Uncompressed High-Speed Digital Interfaces, March 2008) that defines an uncompressed video interconnect for HDMI. The standard defines video timing requirements, discovery structures, and a data transfer structure (InfoPacket) that is used for building uncompressed, baseband, digital
interfaces on DTVs or DTV monitors. A single physical interface is not specified, but any interface implemented must use Video Electronics Standards Association Enhanced Extended Display Identification Data (VESA E-EDID) for format discovery. CEA-861-E establishes protocols, requirements, and recommendations for the utilization of uncompressed digital interfaces by consumer electronics devices such as DTVs, digital cable, satellite or terrestrial STBs, and related peripheral devices including, but not limited to DVD players/recorders, and other related sources or sinks. CEA-861-E is applicable to a variety of standard DTVrelated high-speed digital physical interfaces such as Digital Visual Interface
(DVI) 1.0, Open Low Voltage Differential Signaling Display Interface (LDI), and HDMI specifications. Protocols, requirements, and recommendations that are defined include video formats and waveforms; colorimetry and quantization; transport of compressed and uncompressed, as well as Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM), audio; carriage of auxiliary data; and implementations of the VESA E-EDID, that is used by sinks to declare display capabilities and characteristics.

At press time, CEA was also working on creating standards for 3DTV active and passive eyeglasses, metadata, on-screen displays, and user controls. A CEA group set up in 2009 was working on a standard for infrared signals used to control active shutter glasses; the group developed a requirements document and published a broad call for proposals in early 2010. The CEA also has a task group studying how to place captions in 3D space; the group was expected to issue a call for proposals in early 2010.

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) 3D Home Entertainment Task Force

There is a need for a single mastering standard for viewing stereo 3D content on TVs, PCs, and mobile phones, where the content could originate from optical disks, broadcast networks, or the Internet. To that end, SMPTE formed a 3D Home Entertainment Task Force in 2008 to work the issue and a standards effort was launched in 2009 via an SMPTE 3D Standards Working Group to define a content format for stereo 3D. The SMPTE 3D Standards Working Group had about 200 participants at press time; the Home Master standard was expected to become available in mid-2010. The group is in favor of a mastering standard for the Home Master specification based on 1920 × 1080 pixel resolution at 60 fps/eye. The specification is expected to support an option for falling back to a 2D image. The standard is also expected to support hybrid products, such as BDs that can support either 2D or stereo 3D displays.

SMPTE’s 3D Home Master defines high-level image formatting requirements that impact 3DTV designs, but the larger bulk of the 3DTV standards for hardware are expected to come from other organizations, such as CEA. Studios or game publishers would deliver the master as source material for uses ranging from DVD and BD players to terrestrial and satellite broadcasts and Internet downloadable or streaming files

As we have seen throughout this text, 3DTV systems must support multiple delivery channels, multiple coding techniques, and multiple display technologies. Digital cinema, for example, is addressed with a relatively simple left–right sequence approach; residential TV displays involve a greater variety of technologies necessitating more complex encoding. Content transmission and delivery is also supported by a variety of physical media such as BDs as well as broadcasting, satellite, and cable delivery. The SMPTE 3D Group has been considering what kind of compression should be supported. One of the key goals of the standardization process is defining and/or identifying schemes that minimize the total bandwidth required to support the service; the MVC extension to MPEG- 4/H.264 discussed earlier is being considered by the group. Preliminary studies have shown, however, that relatively little bandwidth may be saved when compared to simulcast because high-quality images require 75–100% overhead and images of medium quality require 65–98% overhead. In addition to defining the representation and encoding standards (which clearly drive the amount of channel bandwidth for the additional image stream), 3DTV service entails other requirements; for example, there is the issue of graphics overlay, captions and subtitles, and metadata. 3D programming guides have to be rethought, according to industry observers; the goal is to avoid floating the guide in front of the action and instead, to push the guide behind the screen and let the action play over it because practical research shows that people found it jarring when the programming guide is brought to the forefront of 3DV images [13]. The SMPTE Group is also looking at format wrappers, such as Material eXchange Format (MXF; a container format for professional digital video and audio media defined by a set of SMPTE standards), whether an electrical interface should be specified, and if depth representation is needed for an early version of the 3DTV service, among other factors [14]. As we have noted earlier in the text, 3DTV has the added consideration of physiological effects because disjoint stereoscopic images can adversely impact the viewer.

 

Opportunities and Challenges for 3DTV

The previous section highlighted that many of the components needed to support an end-to-end commercial broadcast service are available or are becoming available. Hence, proponents see a significant market opportunity at this time. CEA
estimates that more than 25% of sets sold in 2013 will be 3D-enabled. A handful of representative quotes from proponents of the 3D technology are as follows:

No one can escape the buzz and excitement around 3D. We’re witnessing the start of
dramatic change in how we view TV—the dawn of a new dimension. And through Sky’s
clear commitment to 3D broadcasting, 3D in the home is set to become a reality . . . .

. . . The next killer application for the home entertainment industry—3DTV . . . [It]
will drive new revenue opportunities for content creators and distributors by enabling
3D feature films and other programming to be played on their home television and
computer displays—regardless of delivery channels . . . .

. . . The most buzzed about topics at CES: 3-D stereoscopic content creation . . . Several
pivotal announcements [in] 2010 including 3D-TV releases from the major consumer
electronics manufacturers and the launch of several dedicated 3D broadcast channels
are driving the rapid increase in demand for 3-D content . . .

3D technology is now positioned “to become a major force in future in-home entertainment.”

. . . 3DTV is one of the ‘hottest’ subjects today in broadcasting. The combination of
the audience’s‘wow’ factor and the potential to launch completely new services, makes
it an attractive subject for both consumer and professional. There have already been
broadcasts of a conventional display-compatible system, and the first HDTV channel
compatible broadcasts are scheduled to start in Europe in the Spring of 2010 . . .

. . . In Europe, the EC is currently funding a large series of projects for 3DTV, including
multiview, mobile 3D and 3D search . . .

time, there are industry observers that take a more conservative view. These observers make note that there are uncertainties about the availability of content, the technological readiness, and acceptance in the living room, especially given the requirement to use polarized or shutter glasses. A rational approach to market penetration is certainly in order; also, the powerful tool of statistically valid market research can be used to truly measure user interest and willingness to pay. Some representative quotes for a more conservative view of the 3D technology are given below:

. . . In a wide range of demos, companies . . . claim . . . in January 2010 that stereoscopic
3D is ready for the home. In fact, engineers face plenty of work hammering out
the standards and silicon for 3DTV products, most of which will ship for the holiday
2010 season . . .

It has proven somewhat difficult to create a 3D system that does not cause ‘eye fatigue’
after a certain time. Most current-generation higher resolution systems also need special
eyeglasses which can be inconvenient. Apart from eye-fatigue, systems developed
so far can also have limitations such as constrained viewing positions. Multiple viewpoint
television systems are intended to alleviate this. Stereoscopic systems also allow
only limited ‘production grammar’ . . . One should not underestimate the difficulty, or
the imagination and creativity required, to create a near ‘ideal’ 3DTV system that the
public could enjoy in a relaxed way, and for a long period of time . . .

. . . The production process for 3D television requires a fundamental rethinking of the
underlying technology. Scenes have to be recorded with multiple imaging devices that
may be augmented with additional sensor technology to capture the three-dimensional
nature of real scenes. In addition, the data format used in 3D television is a lot more
complex. Rather than normal video streams, time-varying computational models of the
recorded scenes are required that comprise of descriptions of the scenes’ shape, motion,
and multiview appearance. The reconstruction of these models from the multiview
sensor data is one of the major challenges that we face today. Finally, the captured
scene descriptions have to be shown to the viewer in three-dimensions which requires
completely new display technology . . .

. . . The conventional stereoscopic concept entails with two views: it relies on the basic
concept of an end-to-end stereoscopic video chain, that is, on the capturing, transmission
and display of two separate video streams, one for the left and one for the
right eye. [Advocates for the autostereoscopic approach argue that] this conventional
approach is not sufficient for future 3DTV services. The objective of 3DTV is to bring
3D imaging to users at home. Thus, like conventional stereo production and 3D Cinema,
3DTV is based on the idea of providing a viewer with two individual perspective
views—one for the left eye and one for the right eye. The difference in approaches,
however, lies in the environment in which the 3D content is presented. While it seems
to be acceptable for a user to wear special glasses in the darkened theatrical auditorium
of a 3D Digital Cinema, [many, perhaps] most people would refuse to wear such
devices at home in the communicative atmosphere of their living rooms. Basically,
auto-stereoscopic 3D displays are better suited for these kinds of applications

. . . The two greatest industry-wide concerns [are]: (1.) That poor quality stereoscopic
TV will‘poison the water’ for everyone. Stereoscopic content that is poorly realized in
grammar or technology will create a reputation of eyestrain which cannot be shaken
off. This has happened before in the 30s, the 50s, and the 80s in the cinema. (2.) That
fragmentation of technical standards will split and confuse the market, and prevent
stereoscopic television from ever being successful . . .

. . . people may quickly tire of the novelty. I think it will be a gimmick. I suspect there
will be a lot of people who say it’s sort of neat, but it’s not really comfortable . . .

The challenge for the stakeholder is to determine where the “true” situation is, whether it is at one extreme, at the other extreme, or somewhere in the middle. An abbreviated list of issues to be resolved in order to facilitate broad deployment
of 3DTV services, beyond pure technology and encoding issues, include the following :

  • Production grammar (3D production for television still in infancy)
  • Compatibility of systems (also possibly different issues for pay TV and free-to-air operators)
  • Assessment of quality/suitability
    • Methodologies for the quality assessment of 3D TV systems;
    • Parameters that need to be measured that are specific to 3D TV;’
    • Sensation of reality;
    • Ease of viewing.
  • Understanding what the user requirements are.

In general, a technology introduction process spans three phases:

  • Phase 1: The technology becomes available in basic form to support a given service;
  • Phase 2: A full panoply of standards emerges to support widespread deployment of the technology;
  • Phase 3: The technology becomes inexpensive enough to foster large-scale adoption by a large set of end-users.

With reference to 3DTV, we find ourselves at some early point in Phase 1. However, there are several retarding factors that could hold back short-term deployment of the technology on a broad scale, including deployment and service cost (overall status of the economy), standards, content, and quality.

The previous assertion can be further elaborated as follows: ITU-R WP 6C classifies 3D TV systems into two groups. The “first generation” systems are essentially those based on “Plano-stereoscopic” display of single or multiple discrete lateral left and right eye pictures. Recommendations for such systems should be possible in the near future. The “second generation” systems are those which are based on object-wave recording (holography) or approximations of object-wave recording. Recommendations for such systems may be possible in the years ahead. We refine these observations by defining the following generations of 3DTV technology:

  • Generation 0: Anaglyth TV transmission;
  • Generation 1: 3DTV that supports plano-stereoscopic displays, which are stereoscopic (that is, require active or passive glasses);
  • Generation 2: 3DTV that supports plano-stereoscopic displays, which are autostereoscopic (do not require glasses);

Three epochs of 3DTV commercial deployment.

  • Generation 2.5: 3DTV that supports plano-stereoscopic displays, which are autostereoscopic (do not require glasses) and support multiple (N = 9) views;
  • Generation 3: 3DTV that supports integral imaging, transmission, and displays;
  • Generation 4: 3DTV that supports volumetric displays, transmission, and displays;
  • Generation 5: 3DTV that supports object-wave transmission.

See Figs. 1.9 and 1.10 (partially based on Ref. 2). Whether and when we get beyond Generation 2.5 in this decade remains to be seen. This text, and the current commercial industry efforts concentrate on Generation 1 services. At press time, we find ourselves in Phase 1 of Generation 1. The existing commercial video infrastructure can handle 3D video in a basic, developmental form; however, providing HD 3D with motion graphics is not achievable without making enhancements to such infrastructure. Existing infrastructures, including satellite and/or terrestrial distribution networks for example, can handle what some have termed “half-HD resolution” per eye, or frame formats of 1080i, 1080p24, and 1080i60. Existing encoders and set-top boxes can be used as long as signaling issues are addressed and 3D content is of a consistent form. The drawback of half-HD resolution is that images can be blurry, especially for sporting events and high-action movies [20]. New set-top chip sets are required for higher resolution 3DTV.