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In this infinite cosmos we have only one life each. A life in this infinite cosmos is just like a dust in the world. Born by chance and die in necessity. Feeble life and boundless world, two facts we face. Even if you spend your whole life solving them. You will get nothing. - 1998

Monday, April 04, 2005

Standardization Working Groups for 3C Convergence and Home Networking

The continued need for broadband sharing and a growing interest in entertainment networking will drive the total value of equipment with a home networking connection of some type from $8.3 billion in 2004 to $17.1 billion by 2008 (In-Stat/MDR report: Digital Domicile 2004: Home Networking Hits the Big Time). The ultimate goal for digital home networking is 3C convergence (communication, computer and consumer) so that users can access his digital content with ANY device at his home. An open standard, which is not solely dependent on one manufactory, is very important for the interoperability and compatibility between different devices. And it is also important for digital content providers. Here I introduce 4 standardization groups for digital home standards (DLNA, UOPF, IGRS and ITopHome) where the latter two are Chinese groups.

1. DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance, URL=http://www.dlna.org)
In June 2003, DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance, formerly called the Digital Home Working Group (DHWG), URL=http://www.dlna.org) was grounded, initiated by 17 electronic giants, including Intel, Sony, Microsoft, HP, IBM, Fujitsu and Samsung, with the goal to create an open environment for digital data exchange and interoperability among different devices in a home network. The devices include wired and wireless PC, consumer electronics and mobile devices. DLNA has issued "DLNA Home Networked Device Interoperability Guidelines v1.0" in 2004. To date it has 140 members (including Siemens AG), representing 14 countries, and is one of the most influential international organizations for standardizations. Lenovo is the only Chinese company among the 19 promotional companies of DLNA.

2. UOPF (Ubiquitous Open Platform Forum, URL=http://www.uopf.org/en/)
UOPF was establish on February 2004 with the target of a open platform where "easy setup", "online settlement" and "real-time connectivity" can be realized regardless of particular ISP and appliance makers. It was inaugurated by 14 Japanese companies (ISPs and information appliance makers), including NTT Com, Panasonic, Sony, NEC, Sanyo, Pioneer, KDDI and Toshiba. To date, it has 56 members. UOPF emphasizes on IA (information appliance) based on IPv6, e.g. m2m-x protocol by NTT Com (a PnP-like protocol for information appliance networking). The first edition of UOPF specification was issued in spring 2004 and will be revised biannually. Another Japanese group involved in home networking standard is the ECHONET consortium (Energy Conservation and Homecare Network, URL=http://www.echonet.gr.jp).

Among the two international organizations, Intel and Sony are the most active promoters for digital home, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D.




3. IGRS WG (Intelligent Grouping and Resource Sharing Working Group, URL=http://www.igrs.org.cn)
On July 17th 2003, Intelligent Grouping and Resource Sharing Standard Working Group (IGRS WG) was established, initiated by Lenovo, TCL, Konka, Hisense and Great Wall and joined by 7 more members. IGRS now has more than 30 full members, including Huawei, China Telecom, ZTE etc. ranging from terminal product manufacturers, chip design enterprises, software developers, Web service equipment vendors to telecom operators. Lenovo's PIPES (proactive, integrated, proper, effective and seamless) standard, introduced at the end of 2002, is the prototype of the IGRS standard. The IGRS version 1.0 was submitted in July 2004 to the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) of China as a draft of an industrial standard.

The design objectives of IGRS is to enable automatic searching, dynamic grouping, resource sharing and collaborative service among various information devices, CE (consumer electronics) and communications devices in a limited network domain (wired or wireless), and to improve device interoperability and the ease of use, and to fully utilize various devices' functions and provide users with new application modes and rich applications. Products based on IGRS protocol have already been commercialized at the end of 2004. For example, the Lenovo P928 mobile phone, which can be used as a remote controller for PC to run CD player, PPT presentation or media player. It can also be used as webcam for PC, or transfer photos from your mobile to PC wirelessly.

The main obstacles that IGRS is facing are:
* Immature market and application environment
* Deficiency of core technology
* Difference between its members
* Competition from international vendors (like Intel) and domestic vendors (like Haier, main promoter of ITopHome alliance)

4. ITopHome (URL=http://www.itophome.org)
ITopHome was founded on July 26, 2004 by 7 top IT and CE enterprises in China, including Hair Group, Tsinghua Tongfang, China NetCom, Shanghai SVA group, Shanghai Belling, Chunlang Group and Great Wall. This alliance focuses on home networking of electronics, consumer appliance, communication devices, PCs and ISP connections. The Goal of ITopHome is to combine the advantages of its members and develop an open standard for home networking with independent intellectual property right. In august 2004, Hair Group, the primary promoter of ITopHome has announced its ITopHome-based Home Entertainment Center (linux-based set-top box), with similar functionalities of Siemens Gigaset M740 AV.

Reference:
"Louis Burns and Kevin Corbett on the Role of Standards in Enabling the Digital Home", Intel
URL=http://www.intel.com/standards/execqa/qa0504.htm

"Who can lead in the digital home field? ", China Economic Net
URL=http://en.ce.cn/Insight/200410/25/t20041025_2086004.shtml

Home Pages of the 4 groups

[Munich, written for CPE Siemens]

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