The 2011 Shortlist – Consumer Products

Warwick University, Altera

The human eye and the visual cortex of the brain is still the most advanced imaging system we know of, able to deal with light variances of 10,000-fold within a single scene and adapt automatically without any conscious effort.

A project by Warwick University and Altera aims to replicate aspects of this, with what is claimed to be the world’s first true High Dynamic Range (HDR) video-capture and display prototype system.

Normal – or Low Dynamic Range – digital video and imaging can only capture a limited range of tones, necessitating a tradeoff: if the details in the darker, shadowed areas are preserved, then highlights such as the sky will tend to be burnt out.

The project’s HDR system allows the display of dynamic HDR images, covering 20 f-stops, at full high-definition resolution (1,920 × 1,080), at 30 frames per second [CBBD*09].

However, the amount of data generated when capturing this is huge – approximately 42Gbytes of data a minute (compared with only 9Gbytes for traditional video) or a CD of data per second. Thus, novel compression technology was developed that enables HDR video to be compressed with minimum loss of perceptual quality, transmitted along existing ICT infrastructure and then decompressed and viewed as HDR footage.

According to the team, future television technology can go one of three ways: 3D, superHD or HDR. 3D technology is failing to make the impact the manufacturers would like, they say, and SuperHD requires a display too large to be accommodated easily in a household. So HDR brings to television a step change in quality from current LDR solutions, allowing the capture and display of real-world lighting, including enhanced depth perception.

Joanneum Research, Salford University, Technicolor, BBC R&D, Fraunhofer HHI, Alcatel-Lucent, TNO (the Netherlands), Arri, Softeco Sismat, University Politecnica de Catalunya, Interactive institute

Sport, theatre and music lovers could soon be in for a new level of immersive interaction with live events, with a broadcast technology pioneered by researchers at Salford University and several commercial partners.

FascinatE is a system that allows viewers to interactively view and navigate around an ultra-high-resolution video panorama showing a live event, with the accompanying audio automatically changing to match the selected view.


The output will be adapted to a particular kind of device, covering anything from a mobile handset to an immersive panoramic display. At the production side, this requires the development of new audioand video-capture systems, and scripting systems to control the shot-framing options presented to the viewer.

The nature of the project – an end-to-end broadcast system – requires extremely close collaboration between all partners.

Thus, the university is working with Technicolor (Germany) on audio capture, audio reproduction and common audio software development; the BBC R&D division, Fraunhofer HHI (Germany) and Arri (Germany) on video-capture, stitching and rendering; Alcatel-Lucent (Belgium) and TNO (Holland) on delivery network architecture and streaming mechanisms; and the Interactive Institute (Sweden) and the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (Spain) on usability and development of user interfaces so that the system can be realisedas a consumer product.

The first test shoot involved the capture of a Premier League football match in October 2010 and considerable interest was shown by the broadcast industry in making the project outcomes a reality.


De Montfort University, Sleepy Dog

The use of gesture-based controls has brought video games to an entirely new audience, with Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony all marketing consoles or add-on peripheral devices based on the technology.

The ability to simply look in a certain direction to direct action could take this even further and allow people with physical disabilities to play video games and interact with social-networking environments.

The Gaze Lab in the Centre for Computational Intelligence at De Montfort University hopes to produce a low-cost eye tracker intended for the international games market with help from peripheral device manufacturer Sleepy Dog (Market Harborough).

Gaze technology has been used in psychology and marketing research for some years now but the currently available commercial eye trackers are far too expensive to be sold as games peripherals.

The project will aim to produce a prototype of the hardware, a software interface to enable eye-gaze data to be incorporated into games and three demonstrator games showing different applications of the core gaze technology.

The project will build on the UK’s position as a major global player in the games industry, alongside the US, Japan and Canada.

The initial target audience for low-cost eye-gaze gaming are PC gamers, which represent 14 per cent of the UK market. The project is being supported by £16,000 Innovation Fellowship Award, a scheme operated by the East Midlands Competitiveness Programme.