The world’s first 8K signboard

A Tokyo-based company jointly owned by consumer electronics giant Panasonic and major trading house Marubeni has developed a digital signage system capable of showing 8K ultrahigh definition images for the first time in the world.

Adopting a special semiconductor chip efficient at compressing and transmitting image data, the company, named PDC, has developed the product on expectations that demand for such signage will grow amid a record-setting increase in the number of tourists to Japan from abroad and preparations for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The chip was developed by Socionext, which is affiliated with Fujitsu.

The new system compresses 8K data for transmission via the internet and then displays it on a monitor. The mechanism streamlines the process of restoring compressed data to its original form.

While terrestrial digital television uses images of full high definition, or 2K, resolution, those of 8K resolution are 16 times sharper and can be clearly seen even on a huge screen.

PDC plans to launch the product later this year with a price tag of about 1.5 million yen ($13,694) and anticipates orders from large commercial facilities as well as other users. The price does not include the display mechanism of the system, which will be sold separately.

The digital signage company has also developed tabletop and cylinder-type products.

The tabletop version, equipped with a built-in touch panel, debuted on Wednesday. It is expected to be used by customers at restaurants to order meals from electronic menus and for playing games. A model for a table that accommodates four people is priced at about 2.1 million yen.

The cylinder-type product is good for showing moving images, such as waterfalls. PDC has already installed a 15-meter-high system at Aeon Mall Tokushima, a large shopping center in the city of Tokushima in western Japan, in late April.

Panasonic owns 33.7% of PDC, and Marubeni has a 30% stake. The company has installed some 18,000 digital signage systems in Japan and abroad to date. It logged 3.5 billion yen in sales in the business year ended in March.

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