So much effort is put into further developing the screens we use to get our daily dose of social media and other internet sites. Truthfully, I never understood why so many people request this particular development.
We may not have reached the full potential development of our screens, but our eyes can only see so much. That is, our eyes can only see so much on our specific screen size.
This dilemma is most prominent in current household television sets. The rise of 4K screens that emerged to replace the common 1080p screens was reflected by a minor price difference; 4K being more expensive, but boasting better features.
4K aside, 8K is being developed as well.
That being said, here’s the problem: if we have reached the viewing potential of our eyes, where do we go in the future?
How We See
Our eyes' photoreceptors, light-sensitive cells, contain around 120 million rods that react to light sensitivity. Additionally, we have around 6 to 7 million ‘cones’ that are color-sensitive.
When we see, really only a small percentage of our eye is seeing our typical vision, whether it be 20/20 or something else. Besides our peripheral vision, we can see other areas we aren’t focusing on because our brain takes mental pictures and fits the puzzle pieces together, allowing you to ‘see’ without looking directly.
What does this mean for us in terms of television?
According to these calculations, the human eye, if compared to a television screen, has roughly 576,000,000 pixels. An 8K television, for perspective, has 33,177,600 pixels.
Looking at those numbers, it’s logical to assume that we would be able to see an 8K screen but glancing at something a single time only would produce 5–15 million pixels.
Not only this, while pixels are essential for viewing clarity, frame rate matters even more. At a resting state, we can see around 45–72 frames per second (FPS) and at an excited, hopped up, rate we can see up to 120 FPS.
These two factors are what combine to allow us to view television and other moving pictures on all of our devices.
Check out this insightful video for a stronger explanation into eyesight and how we perceive our information:
With this established…
When developing smoother frame rates and improving viewing quality, companies have to be careful not to become ‘too good’ in a sense.
When this happens, devices can exhibit something known as:
The Soap Opera Effect
This is also known as motion smoothing, a feature that some TV’s even offer the ability to turn off; basically, the pictures look too real to the point it’s bothersome.
Picture extra motion blur, yet things are moving at a normal speed.
As technology develops and screen resolution with FPS develops concurrently, consumers may see a rise in this problem.
Your everyday average consumer sitting a normal 10 feet away from the screen cannot tell the difference between HD and 4K.
The average pixel size with this type of viewing is a third of a millimeter. Attempting to spot that on a screen from 10 feet away is pointless. Sitting up close to the screen may allow you to see more pixels but that would simply strain your eyes.
Furthermore, 8K screens have even more pixels stretched across a finite screen size. With our eyes field of vision not changing, these extra pixels are almost meaningless from a normal viewing distance.
Refer to these diagrams for a visual explanation:
Basically, the larger screen you have, the more you would be able to perceive a difference between HD and higher levels.
However, none of us plan on installing movie theater screens into our houses anytime soon.
So What Now?
We’re very close, if not already at, the threshold of television and device screen resolution. I see the future of media viewing being focused far more on improving the frame rate of videos.
Personally, I am very happy with the viewing quality of my devices from the distance I am currently at. I am not willing to move an extra ten feet away for such a relatively minor increase in resolution; nor am I willing to make a purchase that forces me to do so.
I would make a more expensive purchase for a device that has a smoother screen, managing to reduce motion blur but capitalize on FPS.
This is where I see the future of our devices going, less emphasis on resolution and more on the actions on screen.