8K Association: Spec update, new members
January 4, 2022
By Colin Mann
The 8K Association (8KA), the cross-industry group dedicated to promoting the growth of the 8K ecosystem, has published an updated performance specification for the powerful 8K Association Certified mark programme. The updated specification adds new decoding requirements, new image quality metrics and a game mode fulfilling the body’s goal to continue adding or expanding features for better 8K viewing experiences.
The 8KA also revealed new member growth in the second half of 2021. New members include Prime Video, content creation company 4by4, testing service provider UL, with TV maker Changhong re-joining the organisation.
“Prime Video was the first subscription service to launch HDR back in 2015, and we are obsessed with providing our customers high audiovisual quality,” noted Ben Waggoner, Principal Video Specialist at Amazon. “We want to team up with the 8KA in identifying if and what content benefits from delivery at native 8K and 4Kp120, and the technical requirements to deliver those benefits to customers.”
TV shoppers looking for televisions that offer four times the resolution available from 4K TVs and that meet the high-performance standards of the 8K Association Certified programme will benefit from the new broader performance requirements applied to 8K TVs launching in the market starting this year. The 8KA has already Certified over 80 TV models to date.
In addition to the existing requirements for resolution, luminance, colour and connectivity standards that ensure powerful big-screen performance, the 8K Association Certified logo program now recognises a broader set of video decoding standards that will promote the wider availability of 8K streaming content.
The 8K Association is also pioneering the use of Ambient Contrast Ratio (ACR) as a new way to help ensure good picture quality performance in different ambient lighting conditions. For example, when the room is dark the TV will deliver the brightest colours and widest contrast. But as the ambient illumination increases, both of these picture quality elements diminish. This can be overcome with brighter TVs and TV screen technology with lower reflectance. The 8KA ACR test measures the reflectivity of the TV with a test pattern in both bright and dim illumination conditions and sets levels for performance in each case that the TV must pass. ACR is an important factor for TVs from the users’ perspective, regardless of resolution.
“We have been discussing ACR more than a year as a new item and it was finally included in V2.1.0,” noted KG Lee, Chair of the Technology Work Group. “While passing the ACR spec is optional now for certification, members are required to provide the data so we can optimise the pass/fail criteria for a future mandatory requirement.”
“Using ACR as a metric allows us to better manage the experience of viewers in different ambient light conditions that we all have in the home,” noted Pete Sellar, Chair of the Certification Work Group in the 8KA. “These and other efforts we are putting into developing of Certified Specification should give consumers confidence that 8K Certified TVs support the latest developments in TV viewing.”
Also included in the revised specification are new Gaming mode requirements that include support for Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) via the HDMI 2.1 interface. Gaming on 8K TVs is expected to be an important use case so the 8K Association wants to help ensure the best performance.
In terms of new members, joining the organisation is Korea-based 4by4 Inc, a visual technology company that has produced 8K demo and promotional videos and manages the KEYCUTstock platform to license video clips up to 8K in resolution. 4by4 also has an AI-based deep learning solution named PIXELL, which enhances video quality from HD up to 8K. KEYCUTstock platform uses the PIXELL solution to produce 8K video content from the raw video data for advertising companies, broadcasting companies, and others.
“We have worked with some content creators to produce 8K video contents from the raw video data and have verified the quality of 8K video content on 8K TVs,” said Junho Yoon, CEO. “4by4 would like to share the experience with other 8KA member companies and help educate other content creators on the benefits of 8K. We are even looking at creating 8K versions of older classic Korean dramas for OTT distribution.”
UL (underwriter Laboratory) offers a wide range of testing services and is now in the process of being audited to become an 8KA certified test lab able to measure 8K TVs for the Association’s logo programme. UL will join two other labs already certified for the 8KA testing: Allion Labs and Telecommunications Technology Associates (TTA). Together, these three labs over testing services in many regions around the globe giving TV makers more options in how they have their TVs certified.
“The 8K Association embraces the goals of these new member companies and is working with its Work Groups to facilitate the industry advancements that can lead to 8K streaming services,” concluded Chris Chinnock, 8KA Executive Director.