Tech Companies Work Together To Make Digital Home

( [email protected] ) Jun 23, 2004 06:46 AM EDT

Interoperability of the many digital devices found in the home today may become a reality in the near future. Several of the largest consumer electronics and high tech companies have developed a set of technical guidelines on the interoperability of devices which was released on Tuesday.

The organization called the Digital Living Network Alliance (DNLA) include Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Nokia Inc., Philips, Samsung, Sony Corp, IBM, Sharp, Kenwood, NEC Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc.

Interoperability involves a network that enables consumers to share music, video and pictures stored in a computer in a computer with multiple devices, such as televisions, stereos and music players. However, lack of interoperability standards and copyright protection for digital content pose as obstacles in achieving a digital home.

The DNLA has already chosen standards for device communications and will be developing test for validating interoperability and designing certification logos for compliant devices.

The first consumer electronics supporting the DNLA's framework are expected to start hitting the market in the fourth quarter or early next year, with Panasonic and Samsung expected to be among the first, alliance officials said. Nokia is expected to ship compliant cellular phones in the first quarter of next year.

The group is still waiting on membership from the major entertainment companies which is being delayed due to copyright issues. "That is an order of magnitude more complex than what we've done to date," said Griffis, who is also director of world media standards for the Windows client division of Microsoft. The alliance has recently started considering digital rights management technology that would fit into the interoperability framework, but there's no timetable for adoption, Griffis said.

The DNLA is not the only group pursuing interoperability among home devices. Similar alliances have formed in Asian countries, such as Korea that focus on technology standards unique to their countries.