CEATEC 2015: With Eye to 2020 Olympics, Japan’s CE Industry Looks To Get Back on Top, Part 1

It has been a tough few years for Japan’s consumer-electronics industry. South Korean manufacturers LG and Samsung have taken the consumer-TV-set crown once held by the likes of Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Mitsubishi, and Toshiba. On top of that, low-cost sets from Chinese suppliers Seiki and TCL threaten to undercut the burgeoning 4K-display market, and Apple and Google have dominated the ever growing mobile-device and tablet market.

However, despite the recent setbacks, there’s no sense of foreboding at this week’s CEATEC Show outside Tokyo, where the theme “NEXT – Today’s Dreams, Future Realities” is all about a bright future. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics less than five years away, Japanese CE manufacturers believe that the Games can spur the innovation that will help Japan regain the CE crown it has abdicated in recent years.

The CEATEC floor at Makuhari Messe

The CEATEC floor at Makuhari Messe

That said, there is a sense that Japan’s largest CE show may not carry the weight it once did: the exhibit floor is smaller, and several major players are missing, including Sony (which has opted to skip Japan’s largest CE show for the second year running) and Toshiba (currently weathering the repercussions of a massive accounting scandal).

Nonetheless, there is plenty of hot new tech from the 531 companies that are exhibiting at CEATEC, including an army of 4K and 8K displays from Panasonic, Sharp, Mitsubishi, BOE, and others. In addition, public broadcaster NHK and JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association) rolled out a massive booth highlighting 8K Super-Hi Vision (both with and without high dynamic range [HDR]), NexTV-F‘s Channel 4K, Hybridcast, and other cutting-edge offerings. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from this year’s CEATEC.

Previewing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games kick off exactly 250 weeks from today, and, although it may seem like an eternity on the calendar, efforts by Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games are already well under way. Not surprisingly for a nation that has always prided itself on technological innovation, the 2020 Olympics will serve as a catalyst to bring next-generation technologies like NHK’s 8K Super-Hi Vision broadcasting to fruition and Japan’s largest consumer-technology companies are brewing up big plans of their own for the Games.

Tokyo Organising Committee's Hiroshi Sato

Tokyo Organising Committee’s Hiroshi Sato

Tokyo Organising Committee Senior Executive Board Member/Vice Director General Hiroshi Sato kicked off CEATEC on Wednesday morning. Presenting the committee’s “Tokyo 2020 Vision,” he pledged that Tokyo will use as many existing facilities as possible in order to avoid cost overruns and budget shortfalls like those seen with the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and already for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

He also said Tokyo will focus on building an infrastructure for the future with technology investment focusing on five key pillars: sports and health, urban planning and stability, cultural and education, economy and technology, and research and development.

NHK, JEITA Provide Glimpse at 2020 and Beyond

NHK's 8K HDR demo is back after a buzzy showing at IBC.

NHK’s 8K HDR demo is back after a buzzy showing at IBC.

Here at CEATEC, NHK has re-erected the 8K high-dynamic-range (HDR) Super-Hi Vision demo that drew plenty of buzz last month at IBC in Amsterdam. Drawing a packed crowd throughout the show, the demo features an 85-in. liquid-crystal display showcasing 8K Super-Hi Vision content with HDR.

Hitachi’s SK-UHD8060 8K camera at NHK's booth

Hitachi’s SK-UHD8060 8K camera at NHK’s booth

However, it’s not just the content on screen that’s impressive. NHK is transmitting content via satellite from the NHK Broadcasting Center in Shibuya, Tokyo, to Makuhari Messe ¾ demonstrating NHK’s capability to deliver 8K Super-Hi Vision to the home in advance of next year’s broadcasting-test launch. Commercial 8K Super-Hi Vision broadcasting is scheduled to launch in 2018, two years ahead of the 2020 Games.

JEITA's Channel 4K portion of the booth

JEITA’s Channel 4K portion of the booth

NHK, which is co-exhibiting with JEITA, also has Hitachi’s SK-UHD8060 Super-High Vision 8K camera on hand. Developed in conjunction with NHK and first publicly demonstrated at NAB 2015, the SK-UHD8060 is built around a 33 million-pixel CMOS sensor and weighs about 13 lb. The camera uses 40-Gbps fiber-optic cables to transmit 8K, 4K, and 2K video feeds simultaneously, allowing NHK to stay nimble as it looks to produce more 8K content in the coming years.

JDI's 17.3-inch 8K monitor (right)

JDI’s 17.3-inch 8K monitor (right)

Also being exhibited at the booth are 8K displays in sizes = from 9.6 to 55 in., with the 9.6- and 17.3-in. displays making their worldwide debut. The 17.3-in. pro–video-production display, developed by Japan Display Inc. (JDI) and based on low-temperature poly-silicon (LTPS), features 7680×4320 resolution — a whopping 510 pixels per inch (ppi) — and is running at 120 Hz. According to JDI, by providing wide viewing angle, high contrast, and little color shift, the advantages of IPS technology enable reproduction of life-like 8K image with a sense of depth in image quality. Though aimed at the video-production market, the monitor also has applications as a medical- and gaming-PC monitor, according to the supplier.

The NHK/JEITA booth also features a variety of 4K content and displays, headlined by Channel 4K, a free-to-view test channel launched in June 2014 by Japan’s Next Generation Television and Broadcasting Promotion Forum (NexTV-F).

And NHK is once again showcasing its Hybridcast service, which links smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to TV sets as a way of accessing program-related information. Launched in September 2013, it has been gradually expanded in Japan.


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