Television of the Future – Customizable & in 3D

The MPEG-H 3D Audio standard will allow television viewers to individually customize their TV audio by changing the volume of dialog and background noise elements independently of one another. © Fraunhofer IIS/Boxler/Schilling

The MPEG-H 3D Audio standard will allow television viewers to individually customize their TV audio by changing the volume of dialog and background noise elements independently of one another. © Fraunhofer IIS/Boxler/Schilling

The next generation of Ultra High Definition televisions (UHDTV) offers not only crystal-clear images, but also perfect sound. At the IBC trade show (September 11-15 in Amsterdam), Fraunhofer researchers are presenting a TV audio system based on the recently published MPEG-H 3D Audio standard, which lays the groundwork for the television audio of the future. Besides offering immersive audio capability, this new technology allows viewers to customize the audio playback of the television or other devices.

Imagine you are watching your favorite sports team in your home theater system: Not only are you right in the middle of the action thanks to 3D sound , you can even choose to listen to the commentator of the home or away team, or to engulf yourself completely in the stadium atmosphere with its cheering fan crowds . Thanks to the new MPEG-H 3D Audio standard, viewers will be able to individually adjust volume settings for elements such as different commentators without affecting the volume of other elements, such as the stadium atmosphere.

“Users themselves are able to customize the audio playback on their home TV as they desire, whereas previously such changes could be made only by the TV station itself. This technology is known as object-based audio transmission,” says Matthias Rose of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen, Germany, which led the development of this technology. When equipped with the right speaker configuration, this new technology also allows for a true 3D listening experience at home. “This really makes the viewer feel a lot more like they’re a part of the action,” says Rose.

The MPEG-H 3D Audio standard offers a number of ways to transmit audio content. One way is to transmit the individual audio channels directly, as is currently commonplace, and another is to deliver them as scene-based audio signals (Higher-Order Ambisonics). Additionally, the individual elements of the audio signal can be transmitted as audio objects. “In practice, we expect audio signals in the future to be comprised of a channel- or scene-based description of music and effects, the sound bed, and several audio objects that contain primarily speech elements,” says Rose.

This technology isn’t expected to be available to consumers for a few more years. It will first be standardized for general broadcast use before it can be used by television stations and installed in devices by manufacturers.

Source: The Fraunhofer institutes of the Alliance Digital Media

  • I’ve been thinking about buying a new TV, and have been lusting after those new 4K TVs. But I keep thinking I should wait another year. The above says I should wait another 3 years–but I don’t think I can. I also want a TV that can handle HDR, and that’s just starting to appear.

    • What amazes me is how quickly they are coming down in pricing each year while the overall viewing quality increases dramatically. I’m often tempted to buy a new one every time I’m in Best Buy it seems. 🙂

      • That’s another reason to wait. My trouble is every time I go into Best Buy I think I should have a bigger TV. Right now I have a 56″ screen. The 65″ screens are pretty decently priced, but I’m very tempted to jump up to 75″, which takes things into some money I don’t have. However, when I look at the shows on the 75″ TVs I think they are more visually exciting than going to the movie theater.

        • Agreed. We’ve virtually stopped going to movie theater’s because we get such a great viewing experience at home now. TV’s today are quite the departure from the little B/W knob turner we had when I was growing up in my house haha.

          • I still go to the theater once or twice a week. I love movies, and its the main way I social with some friends. However, I get an immense pleasure out of TV. I seldom travel, so to see documentaries from around the world on a high resolution screen is my 6th sense on reality. Jason, have you heard of that new documentary network, Curiosity Stream?

            • I haven’t. We have Apple TV so I’ll have to check it out assuming I can access it on there. Thanks for bringing to my attention!

              • So far Curiosity Stream only works on tablets, smartphones and computers, but they are promising a Roku client real soon now. Check out their web site:

                • Will do. We can likely use via AirStream. Thanks again Jim. I love documentaries so hope they do well.

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