“4k’s marketing team gets replaced by that one neighbor who has a 60 inch”

The perceivable distance from SD and HD was huge, although 4k is technically a similar jump in terms of detail, the amount of perceivable detail in a 4k shot would be akin to Full hd shot unless you were close enough to identify individual pixels. (which in most cases is too close)

The perceivable distance from SD and HD was huge, although 4k is technically a similar jump in terms of detail, the amount of perceivable detail in a 4k shot would be akin to Full hd shot unless you were close enough to identify individual pixels. (which in most cases is too close)

4k or QHD, as it’s called by monitor and television manufacturers, is being made out as a pretty big deal. The amount of detail in 4k footage is a whopping 8 times that of full 1080p HD. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll notice it. The reason why HD and Full HD were big deals in early millennial pop culture isn’t because it was new and expensive, (like 4k is for now) but because the detail in the image was drastically different than that of VGA(640×400) and PAL (768×576) which simply couldn’t manage to create lifelike images. Now that HD can create realistic scenes, what advantages does 4k offer us?

Older resolutions could not display enough information to create a realistic and non pixelated images, at 8x the detail of SD, HD created crisp images with adequate color out far exceeding the blurry and pixelated images of SD

Older resolutions could not display enough information to create a realistic and non pixelated images, at 8x the detail of SD, HD created crisp images with adequate color out far exceeding the blurry and pixelated images of SD

When introduced the Full HD standard provided enough pixels to offer amazingly vivid and crisp images to the eye, through means of increased resolution. HD made a difference no matter if it was a handheld device, Tv, or computer monitor. It was simply better than previous standards and their respective resolutions which had failed to create crisp images. Although 4k is 8 times more detailed than Full HD, it does not seem as big of a jump as SD was to HD(which was also around 8x the detail). [Denison] This is because HD already offers us crisp images, the increased pixelation of 4k is largely unnoticed unless the viewer is watching a large screen at a very close. This is because most devices do not benefit from the added resolution as the eye can only perceive fine details of a few mm before the mind literally removes it. [Diaz] Because of this though 4k can be used to make even larger televisions and screens meant to be viewed up close. This is why many reviewers note that there is not a great difference when watching 4k TV shows over full HD.

Retina display test. The black and white lines are only 1 pixel wide and hence only show up on displays that have visible pixelation at normal viewing distances.

Retina display test. The black and white lines are only 1 pixel wide and hence only show up on displays that have visible pixelation at normal                                               viewing distances.                           NOTE: this is not a working test. follow the link if you wanna try your display!

This same idea is expressed through the science behind Apple’s retina line which holds that 326ppi is enough to fool the eye to not perceive pixels up to 6 inches close to your face. [Bayon] The math behind this depends largely on the size of display and average viewing distance, you can see if your display is “Retina” quality or not through this retina test. Now that you have a better idea of the science behind pixel quality, imagine a Tv with a high PPI (pixels per inch) that is around 6 feet away? The amount of information your eyes would receive would be about as much as Full HD. This means that video display technologies have reached a “perception filter”. The scientific principles of this can be explained through what is called the nyquist limit. An example of which can be described in terms of Audio Standards. The CD studio standard for sampling a digital recording is 44.1KHz or about 2 times the amount of frequencies a human can hear.  Since humans can hear up to 22khz the sampling rate is 44.1k so the wave can fluctuate the full 22khz  in both directions. Now there are newer standards such as 48k, 96k, and 192k that claim drastic advantages over the 44.1 format. Although the added resolution is ideal for pitch or time stretching of the audio in a professional environment, we will never technically hear the advantages of the added resolution. The reason why 44.1k was used as a sampling rate for music isn’t because of some patent or inventor, but rather we cannot physically hear any frequencies not between 20-22,000 Hz. In fact most humans can barely reach 15khz before drop out. Now for the first time, we have reached that level in video. Where the amount of data we can display exceeds the amount we can perceive. This wont stop manufacturers from marketing to you the same plea they did during the jump from SD to HD though.

4k holds about 8x more pixels over full HD, but at an average viewing distance of 6ft most probably won't even notice the changes.

4k holds about 8x more pixels over full HD, but at an average viewing distance of 6ft most probably won’t even notice the changes.

Now 4k isn’t totally pointless as TV’s over 60 inches will benefit from the extra pixels, if only very little. On the production side 4k is both a fading gift and a nightmare. 4k means producers can capture a scene in 4k and effectively crop close scenes of areas zoomed 8x in the shot.  [Cronk] Allowing producers great freedom when preparing scenes with non-linear editing. The problem with this is, as the push for 4k goes on producers won’t be able to use the amount of HD shots they cropped from a 4k video because now more consumers are expecting native 4k content all around. Although up sampling HD to 4k will certainly do many consumers have a negative annotation around this because they bought a new hi-res screen for the new hi res content. 4k is a nightmare for producers also in the fact that 4k implementations have been weaker to catch on than HD, forcing many film companies who made the jump early to face many hurdles such as lack of distribution, space difficulties, as well as costly displays and cpu/gpu combos required for 4k playback. [Q Artis]

So why is 4k not doing as well as HD did when it debuted? Well that is most likely due to content distribution, 4k screens have cheaper options than HD did at first but very little content to play. Of course consumers may also realize the limited advantage of having one, as HD already provides adequate color, full audio spectrum coverage, and realistic images without pixelation in most situations. 4k just doesn’t have as much (noticeable) bang for their buck.

I believe the current Pop technology culture definition that surrounds the standard is the reinforcement theory.  As explained by sociologist Joseph Klapper; “Klapper argued that people’s attitudes, beliefs and behavior were more likely to be influenced by their family, schools, communities and religious institutions. According to Klapper, the only time the media can influence people is when the media introduces a new idea or concept..” This is especially true for 4k as manufactures frame the technology as revolutionary, yet the masses have yet to catch on. Rather they are more likely to upgrade to modernize their home or impress their neighbors, family, or coworkers. This goes to show they are more directly influenced by other people  than the mass media. 4k will catch on but for now repeated attempts to frame 4k as more radical jump than HD to SD are just plain wrong. Despite the marketing used it’s evident that the consumers are more likely to use the new standard as those close to them utilize it as well, effectively reinforcing the consumers own thoughts about the necessarily of 4k.

Q Artis, Anthony. “Cinematography- The Problem With 4K.” Mastering Film. N.p., 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.

Cronk, Steve. “The Benefits of 4K Video.” Aberro Creative. Aberro, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.

Diaz, Jesus. “The Cutting Edge of a Knife Is Totally Invisible to the Naked Eye.”Sploid. Gizmodo, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.

Bayon, David B. “The Science of Retina Displays.” PC PRO. N.p., 5 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.

Denison, Caleb. “Yes, You Really Can See a Difference between 4K and 1080p.” Digital Trends. N.p., 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.

Virtual Reality dreams about losing its 90’s wardrobe to become a teacher!

Virtual Reality has piked interest in American and Japanese culture since the late 1980’s when the original VR wave first hit and ultimately failed due to lack of adequate processing power. Since then Vr has seen its current revival by the likes of companies such as Oculus, Mircosoft Holo-lens, Google Glass, and others. Is this new revival as trendy as the early attempts at VR , and  more importantly, will it stand up to the test of time?

In the 1990’s Vr was a dream that was forced into many minds by the likes of Block Busters like Tron, Lawnmower Man, The Wizard, and eventually many others. The truth outside of these movies although was that simple VR solutions such as Nintendo Virtual boy, Power gun, Arcade ride simulators, and although not exactly VR in itself, the Nintendo Power Glove was the first case a wearable became popular in pop culture.

Despite not being used for VR, the Power Glove create the first pop culture wearable. Wearables used for games have not had the effect on the masses that the power glove did when it was first revealed in The Wizard.

This gave hope to the future of VR because in order to interact with a virtual reality you need virtual limbs and head tracking. All of which was limited at the time just as the bit resolution and processing power was. Early VR unsurprisingly failed due to not offering a realistic enough experience or a viable way to interact with that experience. The current VR faces similar challenges but this time around computation is less of a problem and more of a puzzle along with viable ways to interact with these new environments. There have been many suggested methods as seen below but the market has yet to converge on one before hardware makers can universally adopt an input method.

Leap motion offers up yet another way to interact with Virtual Reality, this time though it’s hands on. 

The Now Imotion controller features haptic feedback, meaning soon Virtual Realities will be able to provide the sensation of touching or feeling.

Stem controllers have been nominated by many enthusiast as the best possible solution for controlling Virtual Reality environments.

Outside of the failed science and marketing, the Idea of Vr was a success and hasn’t diminished since. Due to this versions have been seen in Television shows and movies such as Futurama, South Park, Star Trek, Sword Art Online, Enders Game and the Matrix. It’s obvious the idea hasn’t lost steam in our minds, and with recent advances in processing power, screen resolution, and graphic imagery; Vr may finally be here to stay! But is Vr as relevant as it once was, does Oculus and Google Glass bear the same cultural mark the Nintendo Play Glove once held? Is this current revival just a tech fad with no real world applications once again? or is it more than a fad but a technology that revolutionize the way we approach our every day lives and work flow? One thing is for sure, the current revival looks familiar to the early VR days in terms of aesthetic, but development this time around is all the more in-depth.

 Nintendo Virtual Boy games being payed on Oculus Rift, highlighting their similarities.

The technology is certainly enough to bring at least a semi useful vr experience to the masses. Given that the new chips such as Nvidias K1 packs about as much processing power as a Sony Playstation 3, we can assume that the technology is small enough and fast enough to process expansive 3d worlds, if a tad behind full size desktop components. Although most Current VR solutions such as Oculus utilize a PC, future solutions will utilize either the ever advancing SOC (system on a chip) that our phones use or Streaming solutions like Nvidia’s Shield where most of the processing is done on separate more powerful machine and not on your portable device. Once these features become available for VR, I believe the main stream will finally catch on. As it currently stands, in order to get a VR gaming rig you need a working knowledge about computer parts, software support, and programming methods inorder to get your games working. This is unsurprisingly out of touch with the average day consumer who would rather an Iphone they can instantly work with.

Since the technology is here or at least almost here, is Vr bound to become a dominate technology in our lives? While it definitely will have its place among the future for education and gaming, the current revival still can fail. All this depends on is consumer adoption, which is currently optimistic given that Oculus has been bought out by Facebook and other VR suites are following ensuit. If these companies that buy these VR platforms monopolize the VR industry you may see VR only gain prominence in our lives via work applications or gaming solutions or on the opposite side entirely too consumer. Each way would dramatic alter the way we currently view the systems as futuristic storytelling devices. We can only hope that these vendors allow VR to grow in tandem with the technology to allow the best possible acceptance and use by the mainstream.

With Large companies like Facebook and Microsoft putting ideas out there about what their Virtual Reality systems potential uses for gaming or workflow are, we have an effective 2-step theory. As the pop culture definition goes, it describes; rather than the producers of mass media being the opinion leaders, there is a separate group of opinion makers that interprets their own message from the media that the public is more likely to follow and reinterpret themselves. Here the opinion makers are Microsoft, Google, and Facebook; together they are repositioning our view of VR systems from tacky futuristic games towards real world work applications. In turn the consumers are interpreting how such a technology could be best used for our work flow rather than our leisure.  Rather than letting VR revel in it’s current futuristic gaming experiences as past revivals exclusively highlighted; we have Large companies showing us demos of what our workflow will someday be like with their new concept devices. Effectively restructuring how we think about VR in a whole.

Microsoft shocked the world with its new vision of what Virtual Reality means for our workflow.

After VR loses its freshness as new technology just as smart phones have, it will become a droll and almost unbearable image in our minds displacing that of a middle school teacher. As these new devices will replace educational tools and resources by offering a more intuitive and enveloping experience. This unfortunately means no more snow days for kids from school, no more classes where the professor doesn’t show, the device will always be there ready create an immersive world to teach you with! Unless your VR set breaks, you’re out of luck!