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The choice of television programs (and arguably their quality) has exponentially expanded since the first TV was introduced. But the basic concept of watching TV hasn’t changed much. We see video images, whether live or recorded, in two dimensions. As viewers, we see what the broadcaster shows us. But what if the way we watch TV could be transformed? Thanks to signal processing technology, that may soon happen.
Signal Processing Technology in Free Viewpoint Television
Free Viewpoint Television (FVT) is a potentially revolutionary development in entertainment. Earlier this year, Japanese telecommunications company KDDI live-streamed a baseball game in the FVT format to Samsung mobile phones and other devices. Using 16 separate, stationary cameras, KDDI and Samsung created the visual effect of a seamless panoramic view, ideal for any sports match where the audience wants to explore multiple angles. This broadcast was made possible by signal processing technology, which allows the cameras to transcend their view limitations and send digital images to each other, creating the illusion of one uninterrupted viewpoint. So, how does FVT transform the television-viewing experience?
Most of us are familiar with Google Streetview, and how it allows us to move around a given area as if we were there. But whereas Streetview follows still images captured by moving cameras, FVT allows you to see video in the same manner, following along with the action as if you were physically present. This effect is created using simultaneous data from multiple stationary cameras, arranged in configuration. These cameras film an overlapping field of view, using signal processing to create virtual views where there is no camera. As this IEEE video illustrates, this technology is especially useful in sporting events, which is likely why KDDI and Samsung chose a baseball game for their live FVT stream. With your TV, computer or mobile device, you can watch every play and controversial call in a game or match, whether from the bleachers or the field itself.
Realistic 3-D Viewing
As you navigate around a field of view using FVT, you no longer have to rely on two-dimensional viewing. With realistic 3-D viewing, users can experience a single scene from various angles, immersing themselves in a baseball or football game or even a TV show or movie, no longer in a distant audience but as part of the action. As virtual reality and augmented reality technology improve, FVT may become the platform for the most revolutionary transformation of entertainment since the invention of moving pictures, combining live action TV and film with the interactive thrill of video games.
The Ongoing Digital Revolution – Brought to You by Signal Processing
The world is in the midst of an ongoing revolution, making our lives more convenient and our opportunity to obtain vital information ever wider. From digital assistants to new medical imaging technology to Free Viewpoint Television, every profession and activity is being transformed. And as in so many areas of our digital lives, signal processing technology – and the engineers who make it happen – play the key role in making the wonders of our age possible.