Are You Ready to Turn Your 8K TV Into 24K?
Researchers at the University of Central Florida have been working on a new method for optimizing the pixels on our TV displays, potentially allowing manufacturers to triple the screen resolutions currently available.
The Science of Screen Resolution
Our current screens are made up of millions of pixels, and when we measure screen resolutions such as 4K, we’re actually counting the number of pixels that make up a given display’s surface area. In the case of 4K TVs, there are 3,840 pixels across, and 2,160 pixels down, for a total of 8.3 million pixels.
The more pixels there are, the sharper and more vibrant the image appears. Interestingly, although the human eye can register images at a resolution of 576 million pixels, only about 7-8 million pixels are ever fully addressed.
Currently, each pixel on a display is actually made up of three sub pixels, corresponding to the three colors – red, green, and blue. When a pixel is instructed to display a particular color, the three subpixels adjust their intensity and a white backlight shines through them, which determines how bright the pixel becomes. Each pixel is capable of displaying 16.7 million colors by combining the output of the three subpixels and the backlight in this manner.
No More Subpixels
The UCF researchers’ breakthrough eliminated the need for subpixels entirely, replacing it with a dynamic, color-changing surface made up of “liquid-crystal plasmonic nanostructures.”
Essentially, instead of having three subpixels working in concert, the LC-plasmonic system demonstrated by the team allows them to control each subpixel individually, with each subpixel rendering the full color gamut on its own. This method triples the potential resolution of a given screen, by harnessing all of its subpixels simultaneously.
The research team importantly demonstrated the technology on existing LCD hardware, showing that it could be applied without overhauling the entire manufacturing process.
A Work in Progress
Although the system has been shown to work on existing screens, there are still some critical limitations. The researchers have yet to find a way to control the brightness, meaning that users would not be able to turn the brightness up or down depending on their preference.
Achieving decent frame rates, i.e., the number of times a screen changes the image it displays to depict smooth motion, is also still a challenge. Currently the team has managed a frame rate of 14Hz (or 14 frames per second), which is a far cry from the industry standard of 60Hz, or in the case of high-end hardware, 120Hz. Without these high frame rates, anything moving on the screen will appear to be stuttering.
Nevertheless, the researchers are optimistic, foreseeing “critical advances in color and brightness tuning” in the near future. The team is currently taking steps to get their technology ready for the private sector.
Will this project succeed? Let us know in the comments.
Images via Pixabay