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Addressing the 4K Challenge at CES

Big screens, bigger screens and little, tiny screens ... the 2014 International CES is sure to be all about screens - and the gadgets they're attached to - again this year.

I, for one, will have my eyes fixed on the Ultra High Definition, or 4K, screens at this year's show. Unlike the 3-D fad in recent years, this technology is here to stay. Tech cycles have quickly evolved and there's no physical "box" needed to deploy 4K (except the enormous one the display comes in, of course), which means it's rapidly moved from "interesting" to "awesome" over the last year.

In fact, Akamai has been working with our friends from Elemental Technologies and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. on a 4K demonstration, which can be experienced in Qualcomm's CES booth #8252. We are showing attendees how content owners can make the jump from demonstration to deployment at a scale that is achievable and can help satisfy the groundswell of consumer demand in the year ahead.

Here's what it will look like:

  • Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. will be demonstrating a development tablet, powered by the Snapdragon™ 805 processor, with the ability to decode H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) and play back 4K content on an Ultra High Definition television.
  • Elemental Technologies will encode the content using HEVC, compressing the video to require about half of the bandwidth of today's commonly used AVC/H.264 compression standard. Elemental will also apply Moving Picture Expert Group - Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG-DASH) formatting to the content. MPEG-DASH has been designed to serve as a single, open streaming format for all devices and players.
  • That 4K/HEVC/DASH content will be hosted in Akamai's cloud-based NetStorage and streamed in real time over the Akamai Intelligent Platform's high-performance network at bitrates ranging from 10 to 20 megabits per second. 

So, what's cool about this joint demonstration at CES? It's a great example of innovative companies combining their technologies to showcase a practical implementation for online 4K viewing. Sure, you can find a few examples of 4K content online now, and you can also download massive 4K files; but delivering that level of content at scale is a real hurdle for content owners and service providers - one that Akamai is working with other innovators to solve.

This demonstration from Akamai, Qualcomm, Technologies, Inc. and Elemental shows those enabling technologies all in one place and demonstrates how 4K can become commercially viable in terms of managing the storage, bandwidth and costs associated with this higher level of content delivery.

If you're interested in seeing this demonstration in person, stop by Qualcomm's booth, #8252, or email Kurt Michel to make an appointment.

Kurt Michel is director of product marketing for Akamai's digital media solutions.