Qualcomm is Leading the Push on 4K Ultra HD

by on October 20, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – October 20th, 2014

Qualcomm is once again touting the benefits of 4K streaming video but now discussing the advantages of doing this streaming over wireless networks to mobile phones and other devices.

The company claims that these mobile devices and their wireless services are going to be the leaders of streaming content down the road and that the same situation will also apply to 4K being streamed over them. In effect, mobile devices will cause 4K streams to become more widely available.

However, 4K video involves almost five times as many pixels as 1080p Full HD and even with current terrestrial landline internet connections, only a minority percentage of internet subscribers who also happen to own 4K TVs can view streaming Ultra HD content from web services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The difficulties of achieving the same kinds of bandwidth heavy streams to mobile networks are even more intense, even with the latest 4G mobile connectivity that’s becoming more widely available.

Nonetheless, the major U.S high powered processing chip maker is quite bullish on the prospects of 4K and sees a big future for the format. Currently, they are also one of the major manufacturers of video processors in mobile devices with enough power to film and process 4K video.

At a recent panel event held in New York City, Raj Talluri, senior VP of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, made the prediction that 4K will move forward into mainstream adoption much faster than HDTV did when it first emerged. This is in fact already proving to be the case according to many professional technology observers.

He also claimed that a lot of the demand for 4K will come from the massive potential inflow of user-generated Ultra HD video that is already being made by people all over the world thanks to the proliferation of cameras capable of shooting video in the 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution.

In fact, even the latest flagship smartphones of the major electronics makers, models such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2 (and upcoming Z3) now have cameras that can shoot short but extremely clear bursts of 4K video.


Qualcomm is also the maker of the powerful and 4K ready Snapdragon line of processing chips for mobile devices

Qualcomm is also the maker of the powerful and 4K ready Snapdragon line of processing chips for mobile devices

The number of these phones and other highly affordable 4K video capable cameras is expected to grow explosively over the next few years and Qualcomm itself predicts that over 500 million 4K capable smartphones alone will be in consumers hands by 2018.

Furthermore, the same shift to 4K video resolution is also happening even faster with the entire cinema grade professional shooting camera industry. This means that aside from the explosion in user generated content that will emerge, a growing majority of professional video will also be shot in Ultra HD.

In fact, as James Gunn, director of the recent blockbuster “Guardians of the Galaxy”, explained, 4K shooting dramatically improves the quality of films and Hollywood will respond to the ensuing consumer demand. “People will demand it once they see it” according to Gunn.

All of this content will create an immense demand for screens that can display it in its full resolution.

Nonetheless, as already mentioned, sending 4K video over wireless networks requires some seriously heavy bandwidth and also the benefit of very efficient compression codecs.

This is why Qualcomm is also advocating in favor of a major push towards the next generation of WiFi technology, called Wi-Gig, which is capable of transmitting a whopping 3 to 4 Gigabits per second of data over short distances.

If Wi-Gig becomes more widely developed, consumers could then at least shoot 4K video on their devices and cameras and then transmit that video to their 4K enabled PCs and Smart TVs at home for easy upload to the web over landline internet connections.

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