Two Japanese groups win NAB's first technology awards with "floating imagery" and other innovations

April 20, 2009--At this week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show (April 20-23, Las Vegas, NV), event organizers are presenting the inaugural NAB Technology Innovation Awards to two Japanese organizations--the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and NHK Science and Technical Research Laboratories--to recognize the advanced display technologies they are exhibiting.

Apr 20th, 2009

April 20, 2009--At this week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show (April 20-23, Las Vegas, NV), event organizers are presenting the inaugural NAB Technology Innovation Awards to two Japanese organizations: the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and NHK Science and Technical Research Laboratories.

The NAB Show is the first venue outside of Japan where NICT, a national telecommunications research organization, is demonstrating some of the advanced imaging technologies being developed in its labs with industry partners. Among these are holographic television, 3D displays without special glasses, 3D television programming being transmitted via broadband from Japan, and a multisensory interaction system that explores human interface to communications media.

According to a report in Nikkei Electronics, NICT's exhibit includes a display that "can be operated by touching an image floating in the air." The innovation is expected to find application in medical facilities and kitchens because it enables operators to maintain sterility (in the former case) and can be operated with messy hands (in the second case). "Optical devices developed by NICT are arrayed on an LCD display to show an image on the display as if it is floating in the air. The position of the fingertip touching the floating image is detected by an infrared touch panel with no glass," says the report.

The article notes that the device uses a micromirror array to form its imagery as does a concave mirror or convex lens. "However," the article explains, "it does not distort an image even when the image is formed from a 3D object; therefore, the position of the image does not move regardless of movement of a viewpoint." So, it is possible to view an image even when the line of sight moves in any direction. Although the size of the optical path currently limits the image size, NICT is reportedly working to solve this, and hopes to "display a full-size image of a person in three years."

NHK Science & Technical Research Laboratories (STRL), the other winner, is the research and development arm of NHK, Japan's public broadcaster. Its mission is to research and develop next-generation broadcasting systems, and the organization's demonstrations at the 2009 NAB Show include an ultra-HDTV theater "with picture resolution 16 times that of HDTV" and new technologies that reproduce 3D in HDTV and mobile DTV services based on Japan's digital broadcasting system, ISDB-T.

The NAB Technology Innovation Awards were designed to recognize organizations that bring exhibits and demonstrations of significant merit to the NAB Show, presenting advanced research and development projects in communications technologies. The awards will be presented Wednesday, April 22 during the NAB Show Technology Luncheon.

For more information about NAB 2009 and the NAB Technology Innovation Awards, see the NAB Show site. For details on NICT's technology, including explanatory graphics, see the article, NICT Reveals Display Operated by Touching Floating Image, published by Nikkei Electronics.

Reported by Barbara G. Goode, barbarag@pennwell.com, for Laser Focus World.

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