Image processed by Hitachi's new super resolution technology (right) and image up-converted by the existing method (left)
Image processed by Hitachi's new super resolution technology (right) and image up-converted by the existing method (left)
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Hitachi Ltd developed the "super resolution technology," which can enhance the perceived resolution of images on display screens.

With this technology, DVD images (720 x 480) and SDTV images shot with a digital camcorder can be converted to images with resolutions close to 1920 x 1080, according to the company. It also converts HDTV images, such as of digital terrestrial broadcasts, into images with even higher definition.

Hitachi did not detail the specific method of the technology and only stated as follows.

"The resolution is estimated by analyzing the luminance signals of input images before performing the super resolution processing for multiple regions at a time," said Koichi Hamada, chief researcher of the Embedded System Platform Research Laboratory in the Central Research Laboratory of Hitachi Ltd.

Thus, the technology is capable of selectively performing different processing for SDTV and HDTV images that coexist on the same screen of a TV program, such as of relay broadcasting. In addition, the technology can distinguish a region that should be displayed sharply (eg, close view) from a region that needs to be somewhat blurred (eg, background).

Therefore, by properly applying this technology to each of the regions, images can be displayed without affecting perspective, the company said.

The existing technologies for super resolution "were not effective enough because they only enhanced the definition of images with a certain resolution at a fixed rate, for example, conversion of SDTV images into HDTV images," Hamada said.

Hitachi's super resolution technology is executed on a frame-by-frame basis. The technology is not designed to be applied to multiple frames because, in that case, "it requires additional memory and makes the real-time processing more difficult," said Yaoko Nakagawa, director of the laboratory.

The new super resolution technology is enabled by the software processing. The company plans to further optimize the algorithm and develop a dedicated processing LSI.

"We hope to launch LCD and PDP TVs that use the super resolution technology after 2010," Nakagawa said.

Hitachi will exhibit the new technology at CEATEC JAPAN 2008, which runs from Sept 30 to Oct 4, 2008, at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.