by Jim Bennett (January 17, 2000)
Home networking continues to evolve as demonstrated at CES 2000. Flat panel televisions were everywhere, along with a multitude of security and monitoring devices. HDTV's were highlighted and attracted significant crowds. Sound systems were popular running the gambit from CD, MP3, headphone jacks to wireless audio. A wide range of digital cameras and accessories were demonstrated. PDA's were everywhere sporting a wide variety of applications.
Major technology players were displaying various approaches. Everything from PC to Internet to wireless centric based approaches were on display.
Microsoft is pushing for a highly automated home. Examples include the control of lights, appliances, security along with connectivity to PCs and the Internet. Microsoft says it supports other technologies but its Universal Plug and Play system would be the logical interconnection system. It's Millennium operating system was represented to make hooking up a home network system simple when it is launched later this year.
IBM Corporation is using a residential gateway concept using the Internet to interconnect only electronic devices, telephone and cable services. Their system is called Home Director and appears to be in its formative stages.
Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Whirlpool, GTE, Ericsson, Enikia (powerline networks) and others announced an Open Gateway Initiative, which would use a TCP/IP network using protocols like Java applets.
HomeRF backs Swap (Shared Wireless Access Protocol) specification that is supposed to use both cordless voice telephony and data networking. This also appears to be focused on electronic systems only.
Other competing companies and technologies are pushing for more Internet connectivity, wireless and hardwired systems. It looks like another standards battle has evolved to compete in the emerging multi-billion dollar home network market.
An ideal system should seamlessly interface with vehicles, office and personal systems. Totaling the value of the vertical markets, the development of resources should be available to tame the competing technologies and complexities.
Intel announced its Internet appliance strategy. It states Intel will develop and provide Intel-branded Internet Appliances to the marketplace. Touch screen LCD's are also planned.
Intel showed some home networking products and even an Audi A6 with an Intel processor powering its multimedia computer. I wonder if it seamlessly interfaces with the home and office network?
Also for the kids, Intel showed its fun Intel Me2 Cam that takes the kids digital image and transfers it into a video game. Five games are included in the $99 package when the kids stand in front of the camera their movements control the action in the game. Need I say more except the kids will be engrossed, probably be very noisy and start to learn about computers in a fun way.
© 2000 Jim Bennett All rights reserved.