The folks at Xilinx have just announced some mega-cool (dare I say ultra-cool or even über-cool) “stuff” that they are going to be demonstrating at next week’s 2012 International CES, which is the largest consumer electronics tradeshow in the world (you can see all of the stuff mentioned below if you visit Xilinx in suite #MP25556 in the Las Vegas Convention Center).
Let’s start with the automotive Ethernet AVB (Audio Video Broadcast) stuff (Click Here to see the formal product release).
Now, your first question may well be “Why does anyone need Audio/Video Broadcast capabilities in a car, for goodness sake?” Well, one obvious application area is Infotainment – some vehicles now support multiple video channels to keep the kids quite on long journeys (this is obviously worth its weight in gold :-)
Also, there are an increasing number of Driver Information applications that involve displaying complex images and graphics. And on top of that there are Driver Assistance applications, such as having cameras all over the place and processing and analyzing multiple video streams in real time.
As an aside, I heard that the electronics systems in today's cars can account for up to 70% of the costs associated with developing a new automobile, so imagine what things will be like in a few years’ time – all I can say is “Wow!”
For example, my understanding is that recent legislation requires ALL new vehicles to have a back-up camera by 2014 (by this I don’t mean a reserve camera, but rather a camera that stops you reversing your car into things).
The simplest implementation of this is to simply present the video from the camera on a display for the driver. More sophisticated versions will involve analyzing the image and issuing warnings and maybe even taking control of the car (applying the brakes, for example).
And even more sophisticated implementations will involve four cameras – one on each “corner” of the car. These can be used to present a full 3D 360 degree view of the world outside the car. By using real-time 2D-to-3D analysis to determine which objects are in front of other objects and the relative sizes and locations of the various objects in the scene, one can imagine all sorts of incredible applications, such as detecting if you are drifting into another lane – or if you are intentionally trying to switch lanes with the possibility of hitting an oncoming vehicle or crashing into one that’s coming up behind you in your “blind spot” – or if another car is about to do any of these things to you. In all these cases, the system might issue a warning or – if things become desperate – actually assume control of the car.
How about an internal camera that is watching the driver and observing when his or her eyes close if they are drifting off to sleep, and then turning on a blast of cool air and issuing an audible alert (or a stimulating electric shock applied through the seat... hmm, maybe we need to think about this a little more).
But I’m getting carried away with myself… I hear that at their booth at CES 2012, Xilinx will have a remote control car (a small one, not a full-size vehicle) racing around demonstrating the real-time video processing from four corner-mounted cameras…
Immersive 3D and 4K2K displays (and beyond)
Next, let’s ponder next-generation displays such as 3D, 4K2K, and even 8K4K. (Click Here to see the formal product release).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… when I was a kid, we had a single small black-and-white television, which was located in the family room of our house, and I thought we were living like Kings and Queens. (As another small aside, it was considered good manners in those days to turn the television off if you had visitors... I can't remember the last time I saw this done recently.) I could never have imagined my home of today, with a flat-screen color television in every room (including the bedrooms, study, and kitchen) – and the quality of the high-definition images being displayed on the 46-inch LCD TV in our family room would have been beyond my wildest dreams.
The really scary thing is that it won’t be more than a couple of years before I’m looking back on my existing 2D 1080i/p TV and saying disparagingly to my friends “Oh, that was so early 21st century, my dears.”
In the case of 3D displays, for example, the Xilinx suite will be boasting a variety of incredibly cool demonstrations including:
- A new generation of smart immersive 3DTV that is currently available only in Europe. The 3DTV has the fastest refresh rate in the industry at 1200Hz, significantly reducing motion blur.
- New glassless 3D 8-way viewing technology
- A 3D head mount visor: that uses two 1280x720 0.7-inch panels mounted in front of each eye to provide a spectacular viewing experience
- Another 3D eyewear that simulates viewing a 75-inch 3D 16:9 display from 10 feet away. Each eye features a single 852x480 monitor and supports input resolutions up to 1280x720.
Now, I like 3D as much as the next person (I really, really like it). Truth to tell, however, I’m currently lusting after one of the forthcoming 4K2K displays, and don’t even get me started on future-generation 8K4K displays. What? You can’t imagine what something like this would look like? Well, take a peek at the 200-inch beauty shown below:
Courtesy National Institute of Information and
Communications Technology (NICT)
Come on... you can’t tell me that you wouldn’t like to watch your favorite sports game, or nature program, or science fiction film on one of these little scamps.
The thing is that displaying images of this size and resolution requires a humongous amount of parallel processing … and what better to do parallel processing than FPGAs?
I tell you; as I’m writing this I’m sitting here drooling with desire (it's not a pretty sight)… I only wonder what our homes will look like technology-wise in 10 years’ time…
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