Just in case you thought Dolby was only about sound, the company is joining forces with SIM2 at next week's Consumer Electronics Show to demonstrate technologies designed to enhance the picture quality on flat-panel displays.

The San Francisco-based company has been working with the Italian manufacturer of projectors and flatscreens to develop high dynamic range (HDR) LCD displays, combining two new technologies from Dolby Laboratories – Dolby Contrast and Dolby Vision.

Dolby Contrast uses dynamic control of the backlight LEDs, or clusters of the LEDs, used to illuminate LCD screens. It first analyzes a standard 8-bit video frame to match the higher contrast levels that a local dimming backlight can attain, then each video image frame is analyzed and the backlight drive level for each LED is calculated. For each frame, an image is created with the LEDs, accounting for the influence of neighboring LEDs and a display's optical characteristics.

Among the advantages of this technology are better contrast, deeper blacks, improved colours and lower power consumption when compared with conventional fluorescent backlighting.

Dolby Contrast works together with Dolby Vision, another new technology involving the LED backlights. Here, individual LEDs are controlled in a precisely-spaced backlight array: Dolby explains that the system '“reads” each screen image and calculates the backlight drive level for each LED individually, based on the intended contrast of the image.

'It then creates the image with the LEDs, controlling each LED so that it not only maps to the image but to the neighboring LEDs, producing a smooth transition. In addition, Dolby Vision performs LCD compensation based on the LED backlight.'

The screens to be shown, which claim better brightness than any rival display, plus blacks which are ten times darker, are at the prototype stage, with SIM2 providing Dolby with manufacturing reference designs for further development.

More after the break