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NAB 2012 at the Las Vegas Convention Center has been treating us well. We’ve had the chance to see what our partners in the worlds of broadcast and cinema are working on, as well as revealing some projects we’ve had in the works for some time. It’s nice to be able to finally share them with you!
First, we unveiled the improved Dolby Digital Plus, which points to more surround sound on more of your entertainment with less bandwidth needed to deliver it. By halving the bitrate required to stream a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 stream we’re giving providers – whether they’re streaming content via the Internet, cable, or other means – the ability to package high-quality audio with their video streams, even when the connection is weak, or the network is bogged down.
What does that mean to you? Well, I’m hoping it’ll make it easier to stream TV episodes from somewhere like HBO Go or Netflix when I’m in a hotel with crummy service! It could also lead to more open bandwidth for more content, or a larger variety of simultaneous audio streams to address different needs such as foreign language tracks, or audio descriptions of the action on screen for the visually impaired.
The big attention-getter at Dolby’s NAB booth, though, was Dolby 3D for devices. Dolby’s been doing 3D for a while now, and you may have seen a film wearing our Dolby 3D glasses at a local theater. Now it’s coming out of the theater and into your living room, book bag, and even your pocket – and you can ditch the glasses, too. You’ve been hearing about that all week, and until you see it all I can say is it really is very cool to see the kind of depth the system produces without needing to put on a pair of glasses or find a “sweet spot.” You can even adjust the extent of the 3D effect to suit your preference perfectly. But while glasses-free is amazing stuff, there’s more to the technology than that.
Ever notice, for example, that when you stream 3D content from your cable provider it often arrives packaged as two images, either side-by-side or top-and-bottom, and that when you set your TV to recognize this as 3D, the resulting image seems to have poor resolution? It’s not an illusion. That transmission technique saves time and money because it works with the cable box you already have, but we weren’t happy with the loss in resolution, and we’re guessing you weren’t either.
One of the many capabilities included in Dolby 3D is the ability to send a lightweight, full-resolution stream over existing networks. Think Blu-ray quality 3D from your cable or satellite provider. This aspect of the technology works with glasses-free Dolby 3D equipped televisions as well as existing sets that use glasses.
Dolby 3D also enables you to take your 3D content with you across all your 3D-capable devices, and makes sure the viewing experience is optimized for each, by accounting for screen size and other factors when determining the display of depth. Want to fine tune it yourself? No problem – Dolby 3D is full user adjustable, so you can have as much or as little 3D effect as you like.
All told this year’s NAB is giving us the chance to announce some technologies that I can’t wait to bring home. For me, it’s all about college football season, where I can dream of being able to have a group of friends over to watch a game in full-resolution 3D with enough bandwidth left over to accommodate a high quality Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio stream to really bring the game into my living room. It’s exciting stuff we’ve been keeping our lips sealed about for some time, and we’re glad to finally be able to share it with you. How will YOU use it?