8K is on its Way. Are We Ready?

While 8K may seem to be a long way off, taking into account the variables required to make 8K a mainstream reality reveals that we have already bridged the gamut in terms of bringing it to the table (or TV console). But does this mean that 8K will be gracing our conference rooms, classrooms and living rooms anytime soon? There are a few things to consider in determining when 8K will start replacing our still fairly new 4K displays. While 8K displays currently exist and have been making their debut at CES since 2012, when Sharp exhibited their 85″ 8K LCD TV, there are some other vital components that will determine when 8K comes to the forefront.

Setting the Stage

NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster and a pioneer of new viewing formats, began research and development of 4320p resolution in 1995, making them the first to take the 8K leap. In October of 2007, 8K was standardized by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) who subsequently standardized the signal interface in August 2010. In 2012, the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), in Geneva, recommended 8K as the international standard for television.

8K Signal Path

The Video Electronics Standards Association, or VESA, announced in January of 2018 that DisplayPort cables are now available providing the speed required to drive 8K video resolution. Similarly, the HDMI forum announced HDMI 2.1 in 2017— also supporting 8K and signaling its’ approaching arrival.

Content

Lack of content is currently an issue, but this too is changing. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was the first commercial film to be released in 8K and while this doesn’t add much in the way of content, it does indicate that the industry is paying attention, preparing for the future and that there will most likely be more to come. Not surprisingly, NHK will be broadcasting the 2020 Rio Olympics in 8K, setting up viewing stations so that people who don’t have the technology at home can see 8K up close and personal.

The adoption of 8K as a commonplace viewing format isn’t imminent, but the path is paved to make way for its entrance. We currently don’t have an inherent need for 8K, but display manufacturers looking to promote the next big thing won’t stop their advancements. Whether people will embrace it and move it forward is still a toss up, but if the past is any indication, 8K will be replacing 4K sooner than later.