PyeongChang will host first major 5G video demonstrations for Olympics viewers

This year’s Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea will host the first large-scale public demonstrations of 5G video streaming technologies, broadcasting industry group IBC reports today, as well as the world’s first major 8K HDR video production. While the next-generation wireless and video standards have been tested in research labs across the world, their use at the Olympics will be their live public debut for a global audience.

On the 5G front, the International Olympic Committee has worked with Intel and Korea Telecom to create 5G wireless infrastructure at select Winter Games venues. Thanks to real-time 5G video links to bobsled cameras, viewers at home will be able to experience Olympic bobsledding from “an extraordinary bullet’s eye view” at the front of any sled picked by TV producers. According to Olympic video producers, the multiple “real-time links are only possible with the low latency (almost zero delay) of 5G,” proving that 5G has game-changing applications in gathering video from events, as well as distributing it to viewers.

Other 5G demonstrations will be viewable only in special zones using demo 5G viewing devices. Intel will offer “time-sliced views of skaters in motion,” letting viewers switch between different angles of figure skating performances at any given moment, as well as “Omni-View,” a multi-view, real-time presentation of every cross country skiing competitor. The company will also offer a 5G connected car experience in Seoul, demonstrating in-car videoconferencing powered by high-bandwidth, low-latency 5G networking.

IBC also reports that the Winter Games will host “the largest ever live 8K UHD production,” featuring high dynamic range (HDR), “a world first on this scale.” 8K is the successor to 4K television, offering four times as much detail; HDR expands color and brightness ranges to include stronger and more subtle tones of white, colors, and black. While both formats were introduced nearly simultaneously, their incredible bandwidth demands required a gradual transition from the prior top video standard, 1080p.

As 8K HDR TVs are not yet commercially available, OBS is working with Japan’s NHK television network to capture 90 hours of 8K content including figure skating, ski jumping, and snowboarding that will be displayed on special screens. Some screens will be set up at PyeongChang’s International Broadcast Center for viewing during the Olympics, while others will be used for private viewing in Japan. NHK is expected to roll out satellite 8K video feeds in 2020.

American viewers won’t be totally left out of the ultra-high-definition experience. Though most of the games will be shot in 1080i, NBC will have access to a downconverted 4K HDR version of the 8K footage for display in the United States.

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