The queue stretched around the specially assembled theater where Japan’s NHK demonstrated its 4320-line Ultra High Definition TV system last week in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center during NAB2006.

Inside, visitors got an eyeful of what one-day may be the replacement system for today’s high definition television system. Developed by NHK Science & Technical Research Laboratories, Ultra High Definition TV is intended to present images so real that they make viewers feel as if they are in the scene. The Ultra High Definition TV system relies on 32 million pixels — 7680 x 4320 — in a 16:9 aspect ratio to achieve that effect. The Ultra HDTV system relies on 22.2 multichannel sound consisting of three vertical layers of speakers to produce a 3-D soundscape to help pull viewers into the scene.

Before this technology ever makes it to the home — if in fact it ever does — it is likely to find applications in medicine, security, museums and exhibitions.

Perhaps Nigel Spratling, who ran the NAB-HD demonstration station during the convention, had the best perspective on Ultra HDTV. “I think it’s awesome,” he said. “I actually saw HD for the first time here at NAB in 1985, and then it was analog, of course, and at that time all of us who have an interest in the business saw it; loved it; everybody wanted it. We all knew we could do it, couldn’t afford it, it was going to be way too difficult, and then thankfully found out how to digitize stuff, and we can have HD at really low data rates.”