Sharp showed a new 8K MFT camera at CES 2019, but the real news is that the company was back to the event for the first time in four years, and says it has a strategy for 8K. The camera is part of the plan.
Unofficially presented at CES 2019, where a prototype was all there was to see, the new Sharp 8K Micro Four Thirds camera may be officially announced at NAB 2019, if it ever sees the light of day. Said to be a prosumer camera, with a price under $5,000, according to the various reports, the camera will reintroduce Sharp to the world of cameras, where the company made a brief and almost unnoticed presence.
Unknown to many, Sharp was behind the first commercial camera phone made for the Japanese market, in November 2000. In the heydays of digital photography, when models from companies as BenQ tried to grab their share of what many imagined was a new and lucrative area of business, Sharp also had cameras, like the Sharp VE-CG40U, from 2003, a 4 MP CCD sensor with a 3x Canon optical zoom.
Sharp, a company of firsts
The company, though, is essentially known for its calculators, TVs, displays, and electronics. Its history includes some more firsts, as the world’s first calculator to incorporate LSI chips, the Micro Compet, or the VL-HL1 LCD ViewCam, from 1992, a video camera that replaced the conventional viewfinder with an LCD that users could watch while taking video. The 8K camera, though, is completely unexpected product. Another interesting point is the format chosen, Micro Four Thirds, as Sharp never appears as a company associated with either the original Four Thirds or the Micro Four Thirds projects. What is Sharp preparing?
The prototype was introduced through a video published by YouTube channel Kinotika, which provides camera news and reviews with a comedy twist! In the video, titled “FIRST 8K AFFORDABLE CAMERA!!! CES 2019” the website reveals that “Sharp and Foxconn have designed the world’s first affordable 8K camera!”. There is also a disclaimer “Everything in this video is not official and is subject to change. Wait for NAB 2019 for official specs.”
8K: from broadcast to prosumer
According to information given Kinotika by Sharp at CES 2019, the 8K Video Camera will support 8K video recording at 30fps in H.265 codec. The model, that many say looks a bit like a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, will also feature a 5-inch vari-angle screen, a single UHS-II SD card slot, sensor stabilization, and the resolution needed to offer 8K.
Why is Sharp presenting a 8K camera? Well, maybe as part of its global strategy. Back in 2017 the company announced the 8C-B60A, a 8K broadcast camera with Super 35 CMOS sensor and PL mount using Grass Valley HQX codec (7,680×4,320 4:2:2 10-bit 60p). Yes, that has nothing to do with this prosumer camera, but it’s, as I wrote, all part of a bigger plan. That’s the reason why Sharp returned to CES this year, after four years away. Because they are paving the way for what the company calls its AioT strategy.
Sharp’s AioT strategy
Sharp took to CES 2019 with a mission: to promote the “Changing the World with 8K and AIoT” with a business vision worldwide. AioT is a term coined by Sharp, combining the words AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of things). The company even had a booth in the Central Hall, to mark the first time in four years since Sharp set up a full-scale exhibit at CES.
Based on its business vision of “Changing the World with 8K and AIoT,” Sharp equipped its booth with four areas dedicated to 8K, AIoT, Home, and Business. Visitors had the chance to experience firsthand an “8K Ecosystem” built upon 8K-related equipment, devices, and solutions and “AIoT Solutions” driven by AIoT home appliances, robotics, sensors, and other devices. Sharp’s incorporation of its pioneering 8K technology into an 8K Ecosystem and AIoT Solutions, like the COCORO+ service, have thus far focused on the Japanese market. From here on, Sharp is expanding and accelerating this development on a global scale.
First Japan, then the world
Apparently, the company is ready to take the world with its 8K solutions, and that’s where the 8K Video Camera enters. At CES 2019 8K was one of the highlights of Sharp’s booth, with 8K-related equipment, including video monitors / multi-displays, camcorders, audio, 8K related devices as CMOS image sensors or image processing system semiconductors, 8K solutions, including developments for IP transmission, 5G, and education and 8K-related technology, represented by up-conversion technology. It’s a whole eco system under the banner of AioT, which is a vision of how all kinds of products will connect to artificial intelligence via the cloud and become a people-oriented existence. AIoT is a registered trademark of Sharp Corporation.
From OLED-related (smartphones, flexible technology) and other technology to be used at home, to professional displays, touchscreen displays and other business solutions, Sharp’s return to CES 2019 is a sign of the company’s desire to expand and accelerate this development on a global scale.