CES 2020 Concludes Its Run With More Than 20,000 Product Debuts

LAS VEGAS — CES 2020 concluded its four-day run Jan. 10 after seeing more than 20,000 product debuts, most of them in the technology sector.

Over 4,400 exhibiting companies launched their latest products to 170,000 attendees across more than 2.9 million square feet of exhibit space. The focus, as it’s been in recent years, was on innovation, with large show floor areas devoted to smart cities, smart homes and automobiles, both connected and autonomous.

“CES 2020 inspired and connected every major industry across the globe,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), owner and producer of CES, said in a statement. “The innovation unveiled at CES 2020 will reshape industries, create jobs, fuel the global economy and improve lives around the world.”

The show’s legacy consumer electronics, meanwhile, dominated the huge central hall, where large CE manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG Electronics and TCL set up massive displays exhibiting their latest 8K TVs. TV makers are lining up behind either QLED or OLED. QLED stands for “Quantum Dot LED,” which uses a backlight. When light reflects on the quantum dots, they emit light. OLED, which stands for “Organic Light Emitting Diodes,” doesn’t require a back light. QLED TVs offer a greater range of colors and can reach higher levels of brightness without losing saturation, but due to their LCD chips, they cannot reach absolute black.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) was dominant throughout the show floor and will be a “key ingredient technology” over the next decade, CTA says. Companies debuting their latest AI solutions included Brunswick, Doosan, John Deere and Kyocera.

5G, the next-generation wireless technology that began its global rollout in 2018, also generated a buzz at CES 2020. Delivering data 20 times faster than 4G, the technology also has lower latency — meaning much less of a delay when requesting data — and massive capacity that will allow it to handle not only current devices, but also emerging technologies such as autonomous cars and connected home products.

5G deployment and adoption is spreading more rapidly than expected, according to the June 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report. By 2024, 45% of the world’s population will have 5G coverage, according to the report, a number that could surge to 65% as spectrum sharing technology allows for 5G deployments on LTE frequency bands.

CES 2020 also saw the launch of innovative technologies not connected to entertainment or communications. Digital health technologies were a major theme, with advancements in digital therapeutics, wearables and remote patient monitoring as digital health addresses issues like opioid dependence, mental illness and chronic disease. The Health & Wellness category saw an increase of nearly 25% with more than 135 exhibiting companies at CES 2020.

The Smart Cities exhibit area expanded by nearly 25% over 2019, the CTA says, with companies and organizations including the Department of Transportation, Hitachi and Siemens highlighting products designed to bring cities fully into the digital age.

CES 2020 was also a key startup event, with more than 1,200 companies from 46 countries featured within Eureka Park, offering disruptive innovations, attracting investors and big-name brands. Technologies unveiled within Eureka Park include the Oval Home smart sensor that analyzes temperature, light, humidity and movement in the home; Yoganotch, which applies motion capture technology to help users improve poses; and Caregiver Smart Solutions with sensors that track movement and patterns to provide caregivers reassurance and patients with more independence at home.

CES 2020 also featured an expanded automotive section, split between connected cars and the latest advances in autonomous driving. The north hall featured exhibits from nine leading car manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Daimler (Mercedes), FCA, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota, and more than 150 vehicle tech exhibitors.

CES 2020 also brought together content creators, Hollywood, the advertising and music industries, media and leading CMOs to explore the future of brand marketing and entertainment, including streaming services, through the return of C Space. The 2020 program featured more than 60 exhibitors, including AT&T Services, Comcast, Google, HP , Hulu, iHeart, NBC Universal, Pandora, Reddit, Roku, Sirius XM, Snap, Twitch, Turner, Univision and WWE.

The CES stage featured more than 1,100 speakers representing major global industries, including keynotes from Samsung president and CEO of Consumer Electronics Division Hyun-Suk Kim; Daimler chairman Ola Källenius; Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian; NBCUniversal chairman of Advertising and Partnerships Linda Yaccarino; Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao; Salesforce chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff; Unilever CEO Alan Jope; and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump.

CES 2020 Opens With Spotlight on Innovation

LAS VEGAS — CES 2020 opened Jan.7 with innovation and concepts once again overshadowing the show’s legacy consumer electronics.

This year’s CES features more than 4,400 exhibiting companies, including 1,200 startups.

A press release from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the annual event, touts the show’s focus on “the latest transformative technologies, including 5G, artificial intelligence, vehicle technology, digital health and more.”

CES 2020 runs through Jan. 10.

“The innovation on display this week at CES embodies the drive and passion that fuels our industry and furthers economic growth on a global scale,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, in a statement. “The products and technologies launching this week will inspire, connect and change lives for the better.”

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Prior to the CES exhibit show floor opening, there were a number of pre-show events Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, including Media Days, CTA’s 2020 Tech Trends to Watch presentation, CES Unveiled Las Vegas, conference programming at the ARIA and keynotes from Samsung and Daimler.

Samsung Consumer Electronics President and CEO H.S. Kim, delivering the first CES 2020 keynote, focused on the “Age of Experience,” a decade of human-centric innovation that combines hardware and software to create personalized experiences to make life more convenient, enjoyable and meaningful. His talk highlighted the company’s latest advances in intelligent robotics, AI, 5G and edge computing. “In the Age of Experience, we need to re-think the space we have to accommodate our diverse and evolving lifestyles,” said Kim.

CTA’s Steve Koenig and Lesley Rohrbaugh presented 2020 Tech Trends to Watch on Jan. 5 and provided some sales projections. The soaring popularity of streaming services along with 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled devices will drive revenue growth for the U.S. consumer tech industry to a record $422 billion in retail revenues in 2020 — nearly 4% growth over last year, according to CTA estimates.

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Also on Jan. 5, the annual CES Unveiled events featured more than 220 exhibiting companies, including 98 startups from Eureka Park, the startup hub at CES 2020.

CES Media Days featured two days of preshow press events from CES exhibitors, including major brands and emerging startups. Twenty-nine companies announced products, including several that showed off home entertainment-related products.

  • HDMI announced its Ultra High Speed HDMI certification program that assures support for all HDMI 2.1 features, including 8K.
  • Hisense talked up a dual-cell XD9G LCD TV that layers two liquid crystal modules,  one on top of the other, inside a single cabinet.
  • LG Electronics unveiled new OLED (LG Signature OLED 8K) and LCD (LG 8K NanoCell) TV models.
  • Panasonic previewed  its flagship HZ2000 OLED TV with support for the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode.
  • And the UHD Alliance announced two additional television partners for its Filmmaker Mode initiative, Samsung and Phillips, along with further support from Hollywood guilds and others (see related story).

Xumo AVOD Service Coming to Sony and Panasonic Smart TVs

AVOD service Xumo will add Sony and Panasonic smart TVs to its existing distribution network with LG in 2020.

Both Sony and Panasonic smart TVs will have integration of Xumo’s free streaming service delivering both over-the-air and over-the-top channels to global audiences. End users press the channel up and down or guide button on the TV remote control to watch Xumo channels.

“As the leading free OTT service in the U.S., Xumo is eager to join forces and work toward providing audiences their favorite streaming or local, over-the-air channels through one intuitive TV experience,” said Xumo CEO Colin Petrie-Norris in a statement. “It remains our mission to work with global TV manufacturers, content and advertiser partners to deliver a quality experience for end users; one that can easily become a daily routine.”

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“As a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology, Sony is pleased to partner with Xumo to bring this streaming experience direct to consumers in a truly seamless manner by allowing viewers to access a variety of free channels on our Bravia TVs,” said Nick Colsey, VP, business development, Sony Electronics, in a statement.

“Xumo delivers a best-in-class experience for streaming channels,” said Yasunari Anan, director of Panasonic’s Smart Life Network business division in a statement. “We are happy to partner with them to provide more choice of viewing content for our discerning viewers.”

The expansion comes on the heels of the launch of Xumo-powered channels on LG smart TVs in the United States. LG now offers 190-plus channels to U.S. audiences across 12 programming genres and thousands of free movie titles, according to Xumo.

“Our success in the U.S. has proven that free streaming TV is on the rise and, with the right global partner, we will continue to ensure viewers are delivered an optimized, enjoyable entertainment experience,” said Sangwoo Lee, SVP of home entertainment content  and service business division at LG Electronics.

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Xumo is available in 45 million U.S. households via a multi-screen distribution network of smart TVs, mobile, web and streaming boxes, delivering digital channels through content partnerships with media providers such as ABC News Live, PeopleTV, NBC News, Food52, and HISTORY, as well PGA TOUR, and many others.

Samsung Halting Blu-ray Disc Player Production

Samsung is stopping production of 1080p and 4K Blu-ray Disc players for the United States market — leaving Sony, Panasonic and LG as the last CE manufacturers supporting the next-generation packaged media format.

The South Korean company had been working on a follow-up to the UBD-M9500 4K BD player, which has now been scrapped. Samsung last bowed a new BD player in 2017.

Though speculated after Samsung didn’t showcase any new BD players at CES in Las Vegas in January, the company confirmed the move in a media statement.

“Samsung will no longer introduce new Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray player models in the U.S. market,” a spokesperson told CNET.

Samsung’s decision follows the exit of Oppo Electronics Corp., the Chinese company known as Oppo, which ceased production of a 4K BD player last year.

While observers contend the move could be due to Samsung backing its proprietary HDR10 and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats versus Dolby Vision, a more realistic reason is market forces.

For the week ended Feb. 9, 4K Blu-ray accounted for just 5% of sales of the top 50 titles, according to VideoScan. That compared with nearly 40% for Blu-ray and 55% for standard DVD.

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Indeed, pending Oscar-nominated new release  The Favourite (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) and Stan & Ollie (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), reportedly are not getting 4K UHD releases, while Oscar nominee Bohemian Rhapsody and Widows (Fox) are.

Regardless, home entertainment studios remain bullish on 4K UHD.

Format sales surged nearly 70% in the third quarter last year, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. There were 392 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc titles available in Q3 representing more than $162 million in consumer spend for the period, and 595 4K titles available digitally.

“4K UHD discs already account for almost one in 10 new release discs sold in the U.S,” Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, told Media Play News.

Paramount Home Media Distribution boss Bob Buchi in January said the studio would offer most of its theatrical releases on 4K UHD Blu-ray, as well as select catalog titles.

“The response to our catalog 4K releases has been very promising, so we expect to see increased interest in owning treasured classics in the very best format available,” he said.

 

Panasonic 4K OLED TV Designed With Hollywood Help

Panasonic Jan. 7 announced the launch of the GZ2000, featuring a Professional Edition 4K OLED panel tuned in Hollywood that incorporates custom hardware improvements by Panasonic.

“Optimized by a leading Hollywood colorist, the new panel highlights unparalleled color accuracy and significantly better than average brightness levels,” according to a Panasonic press release.

Panasonic announced it is the world’s first TV to support the high dynamic range formats HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, as well as the HLG Photo format, the new still image format which brings still photography into the HDR world.

“Together, Dolby and Panasonic are bringing best-in-class audio and imaging technology to Panasonic’s TVs,” said John Couling, SVP, commercial partnerships, in a statement. “Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos perfectly complement the GZ2000’s advanced display, transforming it into an entertainment powerhouse.”

The GZ2000 is also “the world’s first TV with built-in upward-firing speakers capable of delivering Dolby Atmos immersive audio with total ease and convenience,” Panasonic announced. “The total audio system has also been tuned by Technics engineers.”

Supporting both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, the GZ2000 can integrate with a smart home setup.

Available in 65-inch and 55-inch screen sizes, the GZ2000 OLED features the color-tuning skills of Stefan Sonnenfeld. Sonnenfeld, founder and CEO of Company 3, is “a trusted collaborator of some of the world’s best filmmakers,” Panasonic announced, applying his skills as a colorist to such features as A Star Is Born, Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and 300. He uses Panasonic OLED screens as large-format client reference monitors in his daily workflow, according to the release.

The TV’s average brightness level has been boosted significantly and contrast handling improved, resulting in increased dynamic range, the release stated.

“HDR content now looks even more impactful, with the GZ2000 effortlessly able to reproduce tricky scenes of variable brightness and contrast — often found in live sports broadcasts and in action movies,” the release stated. “Because of this level of customization, combined with the exceptional color-optimizing skills of Sonnenfeld, Panasonic has created some of the most accurate, cinematic images ever seen on a TV.

“Additionally, in response to requests from Hollywood’s professional users, Panasonic has extended the range and reduced the interval between calibration steps at the darkest end of the RGB and gamma scales.”

The GZ2000 is also compatible with Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), an HDR format expected to be widely adopted by TV broadcasters, the release stated.

The GZ2000 also features Panasonic’s new My Home Screen 4.0, which allows viewers to tailor the TV user interface to their own preferences, the release stated. The layout of the home screen can be reconfigured to allow customized layouts. Access to VOD and broadcast content is also easier thanks to a redesigned GUI that includes icons for decks that provide shortcuts to live TV, connected devices and apps such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. Viewers can even add frequently watched TV stations to the home screen.

HDR10+ Announces First Certified Products, Adopters

HDR10+ Technologies, a joint venture among 20th Century Fox, Panasonic Corp. and Samsung Electronics, has announced the first certified products and first adopters for the loyalty-free HDR10+ license program.

Panasonic and Samsung are also among the first to announce firmware has been deployed to select 2018 television models enabling support of HDR10+ for consumers.

HDR10+ advances High Dynamic Range (HDR) and HDR10 TV formats by adding dynamic metadata to each frame. It enables advanced chipsets to create a true-to-life picture across a wider range of displays.

The HDR10+ license program and logo ensure that HDR10+ compliant products meet high standards for picture quality and that the true intent of filmmakers is preserved within these key parameters:

  • The display performance certification qualifies requirements on the display mode, peak luminance level, peak luminance stability, transfer function and white point tracking performance and color gamut coverage.
  • The metadata processing certification qualifies carriage and accuracy of metadata over interfaces. The display management performance certification qualifies tone-mapping based on HDR10+ Metadata such as shadow preservation.
  • The Ultra HD Blu-ray player certification qualifies the processing and accuracy of HDR10+ Metadata carriage over the HDMI interface.

Depending on the category of adopter, certification can be obtained by self-certification or through an Authorized Testing Center (ATC) such as Allion and TTA — the first centers verified for HDR10+ certification. Adopter categories include UHD Blu-ray player manufacturers, OTT set-top box manufacturers or services, display manufacturers, SoC vendors, content companies and tool vendors.

More than 80 companies have already applied or completed the license program.

“A standardized licensing process has allowed partners, including content creators, television and device manufacturers, to easily incorporate HDR10+ technology,” said Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab, in a statement. “We’re encouraged by the interest of early adopters and an expanded HDR10+ ecosystem that will improve the viewing experiences for all audiences.”

20th Century Fox has committed to incorporating HDR10+ in its upcoming new release slate.

“Panasonic is happy to announce that through the deployment of a firmware update, the majority of our 2018 4K models are now HDR10+ certified meaning that our viewers will be able to enjoy content even closer to the intentions of the filmmakers,” said Toshiharu Tsutsui, director of Panasonic’s TV Business Division, in a statement.

“We are thrilled that the majority of our 2018 lineup will be fully certified for HDR10+,” said Bill Mandel, VP of Industry Relations at Samsung Research America, in a statement. “We are collaborating with other HDR10+ adopters globally who are making tools, developing their own SoCs and/or TV line-ups to be HDR10+ compliant to provide consumers broad access to a great HDR experience.”

“We are so excited to be a part of this promising new technology standard that is HDR10+,” said Denver Mishima, head of Standards & Compliance Division of Allion Japan Inc, in a statement. “As a third-party Authorized Test Center, Allion always strives to provide value proposition to prestigious organizations such as HDR10+ Technologies and its adopters. Providing adopters a better testing and certification experience is our mission and commitment in this venture.”

“TTA is pleased again to be working with the display and media industries to launch the newest HDR technology with HDR10+ LLC adopters,” said Park Yongbum, VP of TTA. “We are looking forward to providing testing and certification services for this latest logo program.”

More on the certification requirements and application process can be found here.

Companies adopting HDR10+ are listed on the website.

Companies can learn more about the HDR10+ license and logo program, including final specifications and adopter agreements here.

HDR10+ Licensing, Logo Certification Program Begins

HDR10+ Technologies LLC June 20 announced the start of the new licensing and logo certification program for HDR10+ technology.

HDR10+ is the royalty-free, open standard dynamic metadata platform for High Dynamic Range (HDR), which optimizes picture quality for 4K Ultra HD displays and improves the viewing experience for all audiences.

The new HDR10+ technology optimizes picture quality for 4K Ultra HD displays by using dynamic tone mapping to reflect frame to frame or scene to scene variations in brightness, color saturation, and contrast. The resulting enhanced viewing experience can now be easily provided on a wide range of displays bringing the viewing experience much closer to the original creative intent for the content.

The HDR10+ license and logo certification is available to interested companies that meet HDR10+ technical and testing specifications. The HDR10+ certification program qualifies the compliance based on different device categories and their technical performance to ensure that HDR10+ compliant products meet high standards for picture quality.

An on-pack HDR10+ logo signifies a product’s certification. The royalty-free adoption of HDR10+ for content production, distribution and consumption currently has more than 40 supporting companies.

“The new HDR10+ licensing and certification program represents a technological step forward for next generation displays,” said Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Managing Director of the Fox Innovation Lab. “HDR10+ improves the viewing experience for all audiences by delivering higher picture quality to a wider range of affordable TVs and devices.”

The HDR10+ platform was also designed to allow for future development and innovation in order to deliver a more powerful technology in the years to come.

Report: Panasonic Might Add Second New UHD Blu-ray Player in U.S. This Year

Panasonic could add a second new Ultra HD Blu-ray player to its 2018 U.S. product lineup, according to a report from HD Guru.

The new player, model DP-UB9000, announced at a Panasonic Product Convention in Europe last week, could join the previously announced UB820, HD Guru reported. The Panasonic UB820 was unveiled at CES last month, where it won HD Guru’s Best Ultra HD Player of CES 2018 award.

In 2016 Panasonic introduced its first premium 4K UHD Blu-ray player, model UB900, in the United States.

CES 2018: From Consumer to Concept

The 2018 CES in Las Vegas marked a continuation of the trade show’s rather rapid shift from consumer to concept.

Once again, there was significantly less emphasis on traditional consumer electronics and more of a focus on technological innovation, from driverless cars to drones, from connected homes to voice-activated anything.

The “wow” factor dominated the show floor, even as Mother Nature flexed her muscle, with the city flooded by a rainstorm on opening day and the show virtually shut down for nearly two hours on day 2 by a blackout show organizers attributed to the rain.

In the old days, visitors to CES – which this year saw more than 3,900 exhibitors  showcase their technologies on a record 2.75 million net square feet of exhibit space across Las Vegas – could expect to see many of the products on display available for purchase later in the year.

But in recent years, CES has become something of a proving ground for tech firms engaged in a game of one-upmanship – resulting in a parade of technological marvels that, like concept cars, may never come to market.

Indeed, the show floor at CES 2018 was something of a theme park, with people lined up outside several of the bigger booths for scheduled shows.  At the LG booth, visitors were led through a winding canyon of curved TV screens showing majestic waterfalls and other natural wonders. At the Panasonic booth, visitors were treated to an elaborate stage show highlighted by a woman dressed as a robot. And at Samsung, the star attraction was a 146-inch TV, dubbed The Wall, that through modular MicroLED technology can be adjusted to better fit your room by removing or adding pieces.

This focus on futuristic technologies rather than new and improved CE gadgets prompted show producer the Consumer Electronics Association to officially change its name to the Consumer Technology Association in November 2015.

At the time, CTA president Gary Shapiro said in a press release, “Several years ago, our executive board directed us to focus on promoting innovation….The name Consumer Technology Association addresses that.”

For show attendees from the home entertainment sector, prospects of an HDR (high dynamic range) format competition came out into the open. On the eve of the show, Twentieth Century Fox, Samsung and Panasonic announced a push for HDR10+, a non-royalty HDR technology also supported by Warner Bros. Panasonic and Sony displayed 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc players with Dolby Vision’s HDR technology, which is not royalty tree.  And Philips/Technicolor (aligned with LG) touted Advanced HDR by Technicolor, which representatives said promises a cheaper HDR solution that is especially convenient for broadcasters because they  don’t have to employ multiple teams to shoot the same live event. (Shooting in HD as well as 4K with HDR requires two sets of cameras/teams with HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, the Technicolor reps said.)

“CES was just a preview of the tremendous technological innovations to come in augmented and mixed reality as evidenced by the proliferation of devices and experiences being touted at the show,” said Danny Kaye, EVP of 20th Century Fox, and managing director of the Fox Innovation Lab. “Couple that with the onset of 5G and the broad range of support shown for HDR10+, and we’re on the brink of a fundamental shift in the way in which consumers view our content across all of their devices.”

At an event highlighting the Fox Innovation Lab’s VR project Isle of Dogs and HDR10+ support, Karen Gilford, GM of digital locker Movies Anywhere offered an update on its progress since the October launch. At 81 days after launch, consumers had placed nearly 80 million movies in lockers and had streamed more than 3 million hours of content, she said. The locker launched with more than 7,500 movies from five studios — Walt Disney (including Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment — and with retail support from Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes and Walmart’s Vudu.

“Movies Anywhere gives fans more control over their libraries with innovative product features that deliver a great experience,” Gilford said. “As the app continues to gain traction, consumers can expect to see the integration of new partners and a continued evolution of product features that serve them in unprecedented ways.”

New release and seasonal titles have been the top performers across redemptions and purchases, she said.

Added Keith Feldman, president, worldwide home entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, “Movies Anywhere advances the experience of our most avid consumers and serves these highly engaged movie fans with relevant and unique content when their interest is at its peak, strengthening the entire entertainment ecosystem.”

In other show news:

  • Chinese TV manufacturer TCL announced plans to join Roku’s “Whole Home Entertainment Licensing Program,” a new platform enabling OEM brands to incorporate voice-activated Roku Connect software as a home entertainment network. TCL manufactures Roku-branded TVs. “Consumers will love the benefits of … having more affordable options –using their voice, having a simplified set up and Wi-Fi connectivity, and holding just one remote control,” said Roku founder/CEO Anthony Wood.
  • LG Electronics  showcased what it said is the world’s first 88-inch 8K OLED display featuring 33 million pixels — four times the clarity of 4K Ultra HD. “OLED is clearly a next- generation technology leader and for this reason, LG Display is accelerating its research and development into OLED so that we can provide  differentiated products to customers and markets,” CTO In-Byung Kang said in a statement.
  • Digital platform security firm Irdeto announced the launch of its next-generation piracy control solution. The new online piracy detection and enforcement solution provides data-driven web video discovery tools with expert analyst oversight, multi-language site searches, integrated social media and search engine discovery, as well as peer-to-peer stream discovery such as SopCast and Ace Stream, according to Irdeto. These new features enable content owners and distributors to quickly and accurately identify and then shut down pirated content across streaming video on demand, direct download and hybrid pirate websites.
  • Media services company Pixelogic announced its London facility is the first in Europe to offer Dolby Vision UHD Blu-ray authoring with its proprietary Dolby Vision authoring tools. Since launching the service last year, Pixelogic has delivered more than 20 UHD Blu-ray Disc titles in Dolby Vision authored in its Los Angeles office, including BBC Worldwide’s first Dolby Vision UHD Blu-ray title, Earth: One Amazing Day. Other titles include Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Lionsgate’s Saban’s Power Rangers, and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Resident Evil: Vendetta.
  • Samsung announced what it billed as “the world’s first QLED TV featuring 8K AI upscaling technology.” This technology upscales standard definition content to 8K by employing a proprietary algorithm to adjust screen resolution based on the image quality characteristics of each scene. The technology “uses a proprietary algorithm to improve the TV’s picture performance regardless of native image,” said David Das, SVP, consumer electronics marketing, Samsung Electronics America. This includes detail enhancement — upgrading standard definition content, noise reduction, edge restoration function — which more clearly outlines on-screen objects, according to Samsung. “The TV intelligently upscales the resolution to an 8K viewing experience,” Das said.

Stephanie Prange and Erik Gruenwedel contributed to this report.

Panasonic Bows New Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Players

Panasonic has unveiled four new Ultra HD Blu-ray players offering support for Dolby Vision and/or HDR10+, the royalty-free metadata high dynamic range platform co-created by Samsung, Fox and Panasonic.

The players – revealed at a Los Angeles press conference prior to CES 2018 – include the latest generation HCX (Hollywood Cinema Experience) processors (developed at Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory) and voice control technology through Amazon Alexa and Google Assist AI.

Models DP-UB320, DP-UB330, DP-UB420 and DP-UB820 feature Ultra HD Premium certification through the Ultra HD Alliance specifications.

The HCX processor reportedly reproduces Ultra HD Blu-ray and 4K streamed video images with optimal brightness. The players can also convert full HD to 4K resolution.

The HDR10+ supported UB820 and UB420 models add dynamic metadata technology to the basic HDR10 for claimed superior color, tone mapping and highlights on a scene-by-scene basis.

For HDTVs without HDR, players include standard dynamic range conversion, which claims to reproduce video images with superior brightness than Blu-ray Disc.

The new UHD Blu-ray players are slated to begin shipping in the spring. Prices haven’t been disclosed.