A Glimpse of Tomorrow in Futures Park

If you’re looking for the one spot at NAB Show that offers a behind-the- scenes glimpse of technology on the horizon, Futures Park is for you.

This laboratory-like pavilion is housed within an exhibit floor area called Innovation Pipeline, a zone in North Hall dedicated to putting future- focused technologies and solutions in the spotlight. Futures Park is the goto place for attendees looking for demos of high-tech media developments, unreleased prototypes and a glimpse of what’s new from cutting-edge academic, government and commercial research organizations around the world.

“Futures Park presents attendees with a view of the edge-of-the-art for media technology by inviting leading researchers and developers from around the world to provide a look at their current work,” said Skip Pizzi, vice president of Technology Education and Outreach for NAB.

The pavilion serves as a home to innovations one is unlikely to find anywhere else. For example, in the Korea UHD On Air booth, a consortium of broadcasters, manufacturers and researchers will show technologies they have developed and used in Korea’s launch of ATSC 3 broadcasting, which began in mid-2017.

Another of the show’s exhibitors at the forefront of innovation, Japanese broadcaster NHK, is here, too. The broadcaster is showing its latest innovations in a 350-inch screen theater with 8K HDR images and 22.2 multichannel sound. It also is showcasing its 8K slow-motion instant replay system with 240 Hz images, mezzanine-compressed 8K over IP transmission equipment, IPbased 4K/8K broadcasting and a virtual reality display using 8K.

Of keen interest in Futures Park are those features being discussed as part of the newly approved Next Gen TV standard. These include services already on air in Korea as well as those planned for the U.S. market, Pizzi said, including dynamic ad insertion, advanced emergency alerting and hybrid broadcast/broadband services such as scalable Ultra HD.

This last idea — the notion of scalable Ultra HD — involves a broadcaster transmitting an HD service over the air, with an enhancement signal that brings the service up to UHD quality delivered via broadband, Pizzi said.

The types of innovations shown in Futures Park — such as multiscreen and interactive television content production, advanced motion capture, new developments in color science, IP-based production, standardized approaches to file-based workflows, VR/AR/MR content, SDR-to-HDR conversion, content protection, AI-based content discovery, automotive “digital dash” initiatives and new methods of public alert delivery — offer a look into the future of the media creation and delivery industries.

More than a dozen exhibitors are set up in Futures Park, including industry organizations such as the Advanced Media Workflow Association, the ATSC and the Ultra HD Forum. Others include the MOS2S project, which blends crowd contributions with sensor data to build AR and 360VR programs, and the Convergence TV Project, a French high-tech/ research collaboration on hybrid, all-IP delivery of advanced TV services.

This year, another key presence in the park will be the UHD Alliance, a group of film and television studios, content distributors, technology companies and electronics manufacturers. The Alliance is joining a fellow industry organization, the Ultra HD Forum, in a single booth for the first time, to give attendees a look at demonstrations that highlight the impact of High Dynamic Range via Ultra HD television.

The Alliance wants to make it clear that broadcasting is an important part of the UHD premium ecosystem, whether that involves broadcasting in 4K or with HDR.

“It doesn’t matter what specific HDR technology you’re using in acquisition, but rather what you are doing with that content and how can it be prepared to create a premium user experience,” said Michael Zink, UHD Alliance chairman.

In addition to implementing production requirements from broadcasters, the Alliance also has been addressing interoperability issues in the market to provide potential solutions for improved user experiences as part of the UHD Premium ecosystem, he said.