Home networking: in Europe this is still largely synonymous with home automation. The main focus is on energy conservation and safety systems. However, the discrepancies between the various systems and standards, which are seen as the main obstacle to the continued (multimedial) development of home networks, is becoming less of a problem.
Special middleware and software tools will permit different network systems to be integrated. Even the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP), which was recently adopted by Cable Television Laboratories Inc (CableLabsÂ®) as a component of the ‘OpenCable Application Platform’ (OCAP) – through the use of appropriate APIs – will incorporate other network standards along with the internet (IEEE 1394, IEEE 802. 11a/b, Bluetooth etc.).
Since last year advances in the home networking field reveals a number of significant trends in the progress towards the multimedial use of home networks:
* Home servers are being developed, enabling audio and video signals, multimedia and computer data to be accessed from every room in the house, indicating the pattern of future home network structures and applications.
* Wireless LANs – in particular in accordance with the IEEE 802.11 standard and the European equivalent, the HiperLAN – are stimulating the market for home networking.
* New control systems, such as portable WebPads, simplify the operation of home networks and are attracting the interest of users.
* Economic solutions are available for home gateways, taking over the management of communications between the home network and external networks, in particular the internet.
In addition the trend in digital home networks is clearly towards the use of higher data rates. As a result the networks can be used for increasingly complex applications.
Additional topic at e/home: System Integration and System Integrators
In addition to home automation installations, what might be described as “islands” are being created, based on various different concepts and/or systems, which are, for the present, only one part of the intelligent home and the equipment and installations that it contains. Showing how these island solutions can be merged to create the universal, intelligent home network will be one of the main objectives of e/home, which is being held in Berlin from 29 to 31 August 2002 ( www.ehome-berlin.de ).
This event is not concerned solely with the technical (hardware or software) integration of the systems themselves. An equally important feature of the discussions will be the question of who should take over the work of system integration, the training that this will necessitate, and the professional requirements needed to ensure the successful development of home networking.
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