HDR to lead the push towards a new connected commerce for Luxury Brands

As I contemplate the future of connected services and technology, I am drawn to perhaps a single truth that appears to be driving the evolution of everything in the converging domains of connected services. This truth is a simple one. It is simple because it relates to a continual, maturing, evolving human want — better, more immersive, more engaging content!

As creatures of desire, we continually demand more content of our Internet Service Providers (ISP), at greater speeds. Movie content, for example, is now delivered as desired, in a streaming data download. Continual customer demand have forced Mobile Network Operators to develop new and improved antenna technology (MIMO), higher radio spectrum (5G) connectivity and (carrier) aggregation techniques that allow for the ‘slicing and dicing’ of a single radio channel into multiple channels in the service of the same and different applications.

As customers have forced Mobile Network Operators to continually innovate, so to have customers determined, through their spending power, what new technologies will be developed to commercial release. High Dynamic Range (HDR) and HDR content is starting to get everyone excited for the improvement it offers, in not just image capture, but also image display. Forecast to be the next big ‘MUST-HAVE’ Cappasity has earmarked support of the imaging and content ‘suite standards’ in the early part of 2018.

So what is High Dynamic Range (HDR) and what does it mean for content? Why is Cappasity, an AV/VR and 3D creation, commercialization and management Platform, interested in supporting this new standard? Let’s first take a small step backwards, so we can take a number of steps forward, with a little better understanding of the maturation of imaging and display technology.

The best explanation I can find, of Dynamic Range (DR) is, if TV contrast is the difference between how dark and bright the picture can get on the display then DR describes the extremes in that difference, and how much detail can be shown in between. Essentially, dynamic range is display contrast, and HDR represents broadening that contrast. For those of you who are imaging practitioners and connoisseurs you will understand just how important this step forward is. For the rest of us, let me give a very brief explanation of how we got here.

To fully appreciate the new technology let’s understand where we have come from? Today’s Red, Green, Blue (RGB) standard defines a 24 bit color range for images and displays. The 24bits are made up of Red, Green, and Blue, each accounting for 8bits of differing color intensity per color channel. Therefore red has 256 different color intensity levels, blue and green, likewise. The darkest color possible is black with the RGB values of (0,0,0) and the brightest is white with (255,255,255). To change the brightness of a pixel, you have to change all three channels simultaneously, otherwise you also change the color.

Yesterday’s technology includes a number of other technological distortions, which ‘mashed-up’ make better use of the 256 bit encoding. This represents a total color spectrum of just under 16.8 million colors. This number is well short of what the human eye can recognize, identify and process. The goal of HDR imaging and display is a simple one, to represent the steady state dynamic range of the human eye.

To give the reader a sense of where the development of HDR technology has taken the industry and how the human eye captures and perceives the enhanced images, OEM’s now study issues including: (i) Processes of light and dark adaptation, (ii) Effects of luminance and screen size on flicker perception, (iii) The impact of luminance on color perception, (iv) The impact of speed of adaptation on scene changes, program changes and commercials (v) How light field and context effect perceptions of brightness and color. Further examination of these questions are outside the remit of this discussion but have been included here briefly, as a signpost to the reader, of just how signification the HDR ‘step forward’ is.

Today, the full HDR experience allows for 32,768 different aspects of red, 32,768 different aspect of green and 32,768 different aspect of blue. Compare that to the original 8bit protocol allowing for 256 color difference and you start to grasp the magnificence of the full luminosity (color and contrast) gamut offered in HDR.

The defining characteristics of HDR are said to include:

  • Improved level of brightness, this is because it needs to have an improved level of contrast being the difference between the darkest pixels on the display verses the brightest pixels on the display
  • Vivid color display sees a maturation from 8 bit color to 15 bit encoding of color representation. This means in increase from 255 different reds to over 32,000 different hews of red — a vast improvement. It is also the case for Green and Blue. This takes the typical 16M different colors to over 35 Trillion colors
  • Media must support HDR content meaning it has been created with 10, 12, or 15 bit encoding in mind.

Until 2015 the ‘moving parts’ enabling a full HDR experience, via a standard digital camera were not available. 2016 saw a melding or ‘coming together’ of the camera lens with the sensor and processor together with advancement is display technology to enable the fuller 15bit HDR creation and display experience, away from the cost and sophistication of a Motion Picture Camera and studio.

There is little sense in capturing a scene if the display technology lags behind the capture technology. HDR display technology ‘daisy chains’ advancements in capture with display to enhance detail in display ensuring detail in both ‘highlights’ and ‘dark portions’ are born out simultaneously and ensuring the depictions of greater luminosity (color and contrast).

Before you start thinking this technology will be outside your financial means, I want you to think again. The technology is already becoming mainstream with two of the most popular and successful content channels, YouTube and Netflix, both supporting the new richer technology. For a full HDR experience, YouTube and Netflix will both be accepting content created in the richer format. This bodes well for enlarging, and in fairly quick order, the customer’s appreciation and demand for the higher luminosity, higher resolution, higher quality imaging and video.

iPhone, with their recent release of the iPhone 8, support the capture of HDR content. Armed with a creative intent, an iPhone 8, and a Cappasity mobile app and Account, anyone wanting to create and produce high quality HDR content (imaging and video) can do so with Cappasity’s coming support of this new burgeoning technology. Again, Cappasity will bring the power of its platform ‘software as a service’ to bear, ensuring the differing imaging and video formats, supported by different original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s), are meshed and ameliorated, giving the Cappasity creator and user, no barrier to entry in creating and producing new HDR content.

There seems to be an embryonic nexus, a natural undefined symmetry between what HDR is and retail luxury e-commerce. When I speak of luxury goods it includes luxury perfumes, purses and handbags, shoes, leather goods, clothing, sunglasses, motor vehicles, and more. Please let me give you a single example to better illustrate my point. The sale of Diamonds is almost always made with reference to the diamond’s 4 C’s. These are the stone’s, clarity, color cut and carat (weight). Cappasity allow for the 3D imaging of a Diamond and now with Cappasity’s support of true ‘Cinema Grade’ HDR the 3D image can be rendered just as nature had intended. Exampling an exquisite precious stone in this fashion brings the buyer ‘onto, up-to’ and around the stone, in its full luminosity. The HDR detail will be more exacting than the human eye. The Cappasity 3D rendering will give the buyer a greater perspective of the value from every possible angle allowing the purchase decision to be made quickly, without equivocation!

HDR technology is here signifying a man-made evolutionary step forward, beyond the arguments of evolution or natural selection. It is hard to image where we will go from here, as HDR seems to represent the nirvana of image capture and reproduction. I suppose the building and human implementation of a bionic eye is not outside the realms of possibility, given what we have seen above.