Home Plug and Play Plugfest

Brian Baker

HTINews Column - Brian Baker on CEBus and HomePnP

Home Plug and Play Plugfest

History will be made in a somewhat obscure manner during the month of August 97. You won't find any articles in your local or even national newspapers concerning this event that could potentially impact a large percentage of homes in America as we head into the next century. If you search hard enough on the world-wide-web you will find only a few sites with information concerning this event and even fewer that will acknowledge its potential significance. On August 10th, special teams of engineers from participating companies scattered across the United Sates and Canada will converge on a hotel in Ocala Florida. Each team will consist of one to four people and will have with them (or have sent on ahead of them) samples or prototypes of the first products ever to be developed to the maturing Home Plug and Play specification. For two days these teams will observe and analyze the performance of each of their soon-to-be released products while they are interconnected to products brought there by the other participants for the same purpose. This unique gathering is the first Plugfest for the purpose of demonstrating interoperability between Home Plug and Play products.

One of the more interesting aspects of this gathering is the relationship of some of the participants. Some of the products will be totally unrelated in function or utility; unless you consider the fact that they both have power cords for connecting to the powerline as a common 'feature'. Other companies will find their product face-to-face with a competitor's counterpart. The participants may have spent anywhere from tens of thousand to multiple millions of dollars to develop the devices that they will bring to the table.

So, what will this mean to the average consumer. Certainly nothing tangible this summer. However, each participant will return to their development group with a wealth of information to be applied to continued development of their product; which will be a vital step toward insuring the level of interoperability that will be necessary for Home Plug and Play to take the consumer electronics market by storm; which it will.

Once consumers have tasted of some of the features realized only by the presence of interoperating Home Plug and Play products in their home, they will increase the slope of the demand curve significantly. However, in the mean time it is up to the pioneers helping to complete the Home Plug and Play Specification as well as those implementing the first products to pave the way to consumer awareness of what Home Plug and Play will provide. Once this has been accomplished, the other manufactures of consumer electronic products will need to choose to hop on board or stand by and watch; because this train is leaving the station.

CIC Conformance Labeling

The CEBus Industry Council (CIC) is aggressively forging a path toward their goal of establishing the mechanism for conformance testing and certification for Home PnP products. This will be an important step that will influence the demands of the market. Without a unique indicator of Home Plug and Play interoperability, there will be no way for consumers to be confident that they will be satisfied in their purchasing of new consumer electronics products designed for the home network. CIC has established committees and working groups that have conformance and labeling as their primary focus.

Updated Biography Mar/03 - Brian Baker is a software engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems located in Tucson Arizona. He was a contributing member of multiple committees and working groups of the CEBus Industry Council while employed at Smart Corporation previous to his joining Raytheon. His background includes development of home automation subsystems and over 15 years of embedded systems development in the defense industry. He was a core member of the developers of the Home Plug and Play specification. Brian can be reached at bdbaker@raytheon.com

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