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UHD Alliance Aims for Early-2016 Release

AMSTERDAM -- IBC 2015 -- Products based on the UHD (Ultra HD) standard will be displayed at next year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, according to the UHD Alliance, an industry body that is developing the standard.

The devices will also feature a logo indicating their compatibility with the UHD Alliance-backed technology, ensuring consumers are able to distinguish these products from those using non-standardized solutions.

Set up in January -- at this year's Consumer Electronics Show -- the UHD Alliance comprises around 30 of the world's leading technology players, content distributors and production companies, including Netflix, Samsung Electronics, Disney, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Its goal is not only to spur the development of UHD standards but also to communicate the benefits of UHD to consumers.

The group is not to be confused with the UHD Forum -- which is focused on the "underlying plumbing" of UHD, in the words of Hanno Basse, the president of the UHD Alliance and chief technology officer of 20th Century Fox -- although the two groups do hold discussions.

The UHD Alliance says premium specifications for a UHD standard are nearing completion and that it is currently engaged in "follow-up activities" based on the initial results.

It also claims to have gauged consumer feedback on its efforts to develop a logo and expects this to be finalized in the coming months.

"The target for completion is early next year," says Viktor Matsuda, a spokesperson for the UHD Alliance and vice president of Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE)'s visual entertainment project group.

Matsuda tells Light Reading there is now a broad agreement among UHD Alliance members about the standard but would not be drawn on specific details about licensing.

"I don't want to say too much but we're looking at the licensing program right now," he says. "The standard is based on open technologies and we're not looking to become rich through licensing."


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Although a number of companies claim to have launched UHD products and services, much of the focus so far has been on increasing image resolution, says Basse, rather than making other improvements to the viewing experience.

"If you are just talking about quadrupling resolution then it is a very limited consumer benefit," says Basse. "That is why we felt we had to bring more quality attributes together to really come up with a next-generation experience, including high dynamic range, wide color gamut and high frame rate."

Basse and Matsuda say one of their main goals in attending IBC -- in addition to last week's IFA show in Berlin -- is to attract more broadcasters and service providers to their initiative.

This week, French telecom incumbent Orange (NYSE: FTE) became the first European service provider to join the UHD Alliance, but the organization is also in discussions with Sky , a UK-headquartered satellite TV company, and the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) , the UK's public-service broadcaster.

It also revealed that Dutch technology group Royal Philips Electronics N.V. (NYSE: PHG; Amsterdam: PHI) has this week become a member.

For more on UHD developments, read:

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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