what to expect at ces

CableLabs has had a busy year, conducting interoperability tests for DOCSIS 3.1, facilitating better WiFi experiences, and exploring various formats of video streams such as 4K. With CES just around the corner (Jan 6-9), CEO Phil McKinney spoke with us about what to look out for at the giant trade show. CableLabs will host an event at CES to share trends and changes happening to the industry and their impact. “We will also have a pitch event, where we bring in 10 interesting startup tech companies and give them an opportunity to spend time with CEOs and share what they will be working on,” McKinney said. Virtual Reality will be a hot topic at CES, according to the former CTO of HP. At CES, “this is the year it’s going to go beyond VR goggles. There is going to be a lot of emphasis on VR content,” he said, explaining that storytelling in the VR format requires a whole new structure. “There will be a bunch of companies demonstrating some interesting content in the VR space,” which will signal how VR content can become mainstream for consumers. Content is, of course, key, because all the gadgets are meaningless without content to drive adoption. McKinney said gaming content is gaining a lot of traction currently. In addition, “you will see a lot of nature and travel content.” Sports VR content, which provides viewers an immersive stadium experience in the home, is another big area, he said. The next step is creating dramatic content. Storytelling in the 360 context still requires a lot of work, he said. The buzz around VR fits into the development of DOCSIS 3.1 because of the needs for high speed. While DOCSIS 3.0 can support existing VR streaming, as VR progresses, it will require much more bandwidth and capacity, said McKinney. Several major ops indicated they will trial and even roll out 3.1 in 2016 (see “DOCSIS 3.1” below). Meanwhile, 4K is expected to continue to have a major presence on the show floor. And the focus will be more on colors and less on resolution, focusing on getting richer and better color on display, he said. Resolution by itself isn’t enough to attract consumers to purchase 4K TV sets, he said. McKinney noted High Dynamic Range (HDR) has been at the center of discussions in the 4K space this year. The technology is considered an option that could prove popular with consumers as it could provide a much greater impact on perceived image quality, significantly differentiating 4K from HD. At CableLabs, “we have fully tested 4K and HDR.” Cable operators are ready today to handle 4K services, meaning no major upgrade is needed to transmit 4K signals, McKinney said. Mass adoption of 4K still comes down to the availability of content and devices. McKinney noted some Blu-rays coming next year will feature 4K capabilities, providing noticeable display improvement. It can be a nice early entry point for 4K, allowing consumers to watch a variety of content in 4K quality, he said.

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