LAS VEGAS In the 1980's, VCRs made "time-shifting" possible.
In 2004, Sling Media opened the door to a new concept called "place shifting," with its Slingbox that is touted as enabling a Internet-connected laptop to tap into a remote TV.
At the Consumer Electronics Show, Quartics, an Irvine, Calif.-based fabless chip company, has come up with "screen shifting." Sherjil Ahmed, president of Quartics, claimed that his company's new technology will enable video content to move from different platforms to any type of display.
Quartics' programmable media processor, based on the company's proprietary VLIW-based core, "receives, decodes, scales and renders video to fit the resolution of a TV," Ahmed said during a pre-Consumer Electronics Show event Saturday (Jan. 5).
While downloading or streaming video on a variety of devices ranging from mobile phones, iPods to PCs has become a common practice, consumers yearn to display some of this video also on a bigger " ideally high-definition -- screen. Today, however, this shift exceeds most consumers' technical abilities.
Showing video originally received on a PC on an HDTV means "a lot of real-life problems" must be solved, explained Ahmed. Beyond such technical issues as reformatting, scaling and rendering, "You need to worry about connectors, Internet connectivity and running cables between a TV and PC," said Ahmed. "Most homes don't have a PC sitting next to a TV."
Quartics showed off a small box " its new reference design " built to decode and transmit audio, video and graphics over 802.11g " from one screen to another.
While the idea of "PC to TV" is not new, Quartics believes the company's programmable media processor, specifically designed to receive, decode, scale and render video to fit the resolution of a TV, makes a huge difference.
Further, Quartics developed a proprietary compression algorithm. "It is based on DCT, but it's quite different from ordinary DCT-based compression standards such as MPEG or H.264," said Ahmed. "Rather, our compression behaves like a low pass filter." While text and graphics, compressed in MPEG stream, often don't look great on a TV, "we compress both video and graphics just enough not to lose its original graphics quality," he explained.
The compression, running at a variable bit rate around 8 megabits per second, is designed to be applied in a closed environment where video and graphics travel from one platform to another type of display within the same household.
Quartics developed its own VILW-core based media processor. "It's not TriMedia, it's not Equator, it's not MicroUnity," said Ahmed. The programmable solution was built from the ground up for "screen-shifting."
Noting that the Quartics solution includes a lot of proprietary features, he said, "We offer the first programmable platform capable of handling 1080p in any format."
While Ahmed said his company cannot yet detail its chip architecture, he said chips have been in production at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company using a 0.13-micron process technology since the fourth quarter of 2007.