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UHD Alliance President talks about the importance of interoperability

Ahead of the UHD Plugfest next week, we caught up with Mike Fidler, President of the UHD Alliance, who gave us some insight into the current focuses of the Alliance.

Interoperability is a key focus for many organisations within the industry; why do you think that is and what does the UHD Alliance (UHDA) see as its role in interoperability?

UHDA has taken a leadership role in providing out-of-the-box testing of the industry’s leading CE companies’ devices to help consumers enjoy a premium experience from UHD and all connected devices, Smart TV apps and content. We are the only organisation working on the front-end to conduct tests which identify potential challenges consumers may face in their quest to maximise their entertainment experiences. We publish results on our website with comprehensive information, both visual and textual, on how to get the best of the 4K UHD experience. The UHDA also works with other organisations, including DTG, HDMI, CTA and others to both identify potential problems as well as solutions.

How does the UHDAs work with interoperability tie into your premium program?

Interoperability is a key initiative for the UHDA in 2019/2020. The mission of the UHDA is to help deliver creative intent and we try to guide consumers to that premium experience through collaborations with groups like the CTA, UHDF, DTG, HDMI, BASE in Europe, UHD Partners in France and others, to help identify possible issues related to compatibility and performance. Ultimately, the quality of the consumer experience is dependent on each component performing as intended. Identifying potential areas where performance isn’t fully maximised is critical to delivering a premium experience.

How well informed do you think consumers are about the different aspects to UHD (e.g. 4K, HDR, Wide Color Gamut and Immersive Audio)? And what efforts is UHDA making to improve on consumer knowledge?

I think consumer awareness of labels such as 4K is pretty high but if you ask them to break down what 4K means to their home or mobile experience, there is typically a disconnect. The UHDA was approached by Amazon in 2018 and mega-retailer Target in 2019 to provide support and content for their build-outs of a new 4K information page. Similar to our collaboration with Amazon in 2018, the UHDA worked with Target to deliver a consistent, core message focused on educating consumers on the four key pillars of UHD – 4K, HDR, Wide Color Gamut and Immersive Audio. The UHDA provided messaging for each of the four pillars along with an FAQ tailored for Target’s audience.

The UHDA’s focus has not only been on increasing understanding of UHD and 4K, but also on expanding understanding the value of HDR, which has a much lower awareness level than 4K.

In addition to collaborations with retailers, the UHDA worked closely with BASE and UHD Partners France to develop and disseminate a Dynamic Typograph for social media applications with wide adoption in both Europe and the United States. With this, we were able to expand the message beyond just 4K to reinforce the four pillars including HDR, Wide Color Gamut and Immersive Audio.

What position does the UHDA take in the recent discussion on ‘directors intent’? (i.e. what are the interoperability consequences?)

The UHDA has been recognised by the creative community as an organisation, that by virtue of its diverse membership, could help drive delivery of home entertainment experiences that more accurately reflect the creative intent of filmmakers. The UHDA’s members – the studios, CE and technology companies – have been working together, as well as with the creative community, to develop parameters and pathways that enable consumers to easily experience the filmmaker’s vision.

As an industry trade organisation, the UHDA is unbiased and, consistent with our mission to deliver a premium experience of creative intent, it has been a natural collaboration. Our goal with interoperability is to help establish a consistent and simple way for consumers to experience the director’s intent on their home entertainment equipment.

How far does the UHDA see the scope of interoperability extending? Does it just cover technical/hardware or does it expand to QoE?

The UHDA has been focused not just on the technical/hardware side but ensuring that the full capability of UHD and its members products are activated to deliver the fullest experience possible.

UHD Alliance is sponsoring the UHD Plugfest which is being held on the 26th and 27th June 2019 at the DTG offices in London. For more information on how you can get involved in these kinds of events, please email us at [email protected].

Q&A published on 21/6/19

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