Wireless Systems Design

Networks Find Home

When we imagine the home of the future, every possible aspect of it is seamlessly networked. Many practical issues must be resolved, however, before such visions can come to life. In an effort to tackle some of the currently known obstacles to home networking, the Digital Living Network Alliance (www.dlna.org) has released its Home Networked Device Guidelines v1.0.

These guidelines define the design principles that are necessary to move content from one consumer-electronics, personal-computer, or mobile product to another in a wired or wireless home network. In conjunction with this announcement, the organization also revealed its new identity. It will now be called the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) instead of the Digital Home Working Group (DHWG). It shifted from working-group status to a formal alliance.

Ultimately, the alliance's goal is to enable the development of consumer-friendly products. By reaching a cross-industry consensus, the DLNA has already defined two major components that are necessary for seamless interoperability among the devices that are accessing a home network: the media server and media-rendering device. These components are based on open standards, such as Internet Protocol, HTTP, and the UPnP and Wi-Fi protocols. By using widely accepted specifications, the DLNA plans to encourage adoption within the consumer-electronics, PC, and mobile-product manufacturing industries.

Specifically, the Interoperability Guidelines v1.0 specify a set of required formats for image, audio, and audio/visual media classes. To broaden their scope, the first addendum will define optional media formats. The use of smart remotes and mobile devices, such as cellular phones, also is targeted for future inclusion.

The Digital Living Network Alliance anticipates that member companies will begin marketing products based on the Interoperability Guidelines v1.0 by the end of this year. It will launch its official certification and logo program in mid-2005. That program will help consumers to quickly identify compliant devices.

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