BBC Research & Development to trial UHD TV and 4G mobile at Commonwealth Games

BBC Research and Development is planning a range of new trials and public demonstrations as part of its Commonwealth Games showcase running July 24 to August 3. These experiments, with a range of industry partners, include the first ever Ultra-HD broadcast of a Commonwealth Games; the first major live event to be produced and delivered entirely over the internet; the first UK trial broadcasting live coverage over 4G mobile networks; and the first live virtual reality broadcast combining 360 degree video with 3D audio.

All trials and demonstrations are open to the public in the Glasgow Science Centre’s Clyde Suite from 10am–5pm throughout the Games and will form part of the wider BBC at the Quay festivities.

Matthew Postgate, Controller of BBC R&D comments, “The future isn’t being created by one company or different companies working in isolation, this is a future that is going to be created by collaboration, and the BBC is committed to open innovation and open research.”

Visitors to the showcase will be able to see a special BBC R&D production of the Commonwealth Games in Ultra-HD, explore some of the technical challenges facing Ultra-HD production, such as using higher frame rates and higher dynamic range, and see how it’s put together in the BBC’s experimental IP Production Gallery.

Visitors can also experience what the future of TV viewing in the home may be like, with a joint demonstration from BBC R&D and Cisco. The demo explores how Ultra-HD footage from the Games could be experienced with adaptable displays and contextual applications that provide a truly immersive and enhanced viewing experience.

In a UK first, BBC R&D will collaborate with EE, Huawei and Qualcomm on a trial to broadcast live footage from the Games over the EE 4G mobile network. Handheld devices are an increasingly popular way of consuming BBC programmes but conventional streaming over mobile networks can buffer or freeze at times of heavy congestion, as content needs to be sent individually to every user.

4G broadcasting offers an alternative to this, allowing live streams to be transmitted once over the mobile network to a large number of users simultaneously. Not only does this offer potential audience benefits due to the increased quality and reliability, it can also be a more efficient way to deliver popular shows and live events to audiences.

Those visiting the Showcase will be able to see 4G broadcast for themselves with live action from the Games delivered to demo handsets using a special Commonwealth Games application.

By combining existing research into 360 degree video and 3D audio, BBC R&D, with the assistance of UCL, will create the most immersive live virtual reality broadcast to date. In this demonstration, a panoramic, 360 degree video camera, and a 3D audio microphone will be placed into the SSE Hydro Stadium in Glasgow, streaming the live feeds to an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in the Glasgow Science Centre. This provides the viewer with the sensation of being transported inside the stadium and being part of the crowd. This work forms part of ongoing projects to explore the creative and editorial potential of new consumer audio-visual technology.

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