HomeNet2Run Bridges Heterogeneity Gaps for the 'Interconnected Home'
The HomeNet2Run consortium announced that it is able to demonstrate a range of solutions that turn the "Interconnected Home" vision into reality. At the IFA 2003 in Berlin the consortium has showcased a demonstration.
After two and a half years of dedicated work addressing some complex challenges, it can truly be said that a milestone has been reached in the quest to realize the 'Interconnected Home' vision. Philips Research heads the HomeNet2Run project that is backed by consortium members who include prominent names in the world of electronics and research.
The huge Europe-wide effort to close the major gaps created by heterogeneous solutions and thus move a step closer to the interconnected home, has now come to fruition. HomeNet2Run has successfully built bridges between different wired network (e.g. Ethernet and IEEE 1394), wireless network (e.g. IEEE 802.11 and HiperLAN2) and middleware (UPnP and HAVi) clusters, enabling room-to-room and home-to-home connectivity of the PC and consumer-electronics worlds. The collaboration places European companies in the consumer, telecommunications and IT industries in an enviable position to exploit the many opportunities presented by combining the previously distinct areas of broadcast, Internet and telecommunications services.
HomeNet2Run has proved that heterogeneity in digital home networks, which we will live with for some time to come, need not necessarily lead to complex system behavior and handling, but can be made invisible to consumers by appropriate bridging technologies that effectively glue together the world's most popular standards in the wired and wireless domains. In successfully developing an interconnected-home architecture that supports innovative user scenarios, the project looked critically at various European standards, for instance, HiperLAN2, DVB (Digital Video Broadcast), and MHP (Multimedia Home Platform), and contributed significantly to their improvement. Other standards, such as IEEE 1394, HAVi and UPnP, were all extended appropriately.
Anywhere in the home
Mobility is a major benefit resulting from the project. For example, any content can be moved around the home without being limited to the device in any particular room. Within the interconnected home, audio/video streams will be transferred via wireless links to portable devices such as web pads and personal digital assistants. Currently you can only listen to sound from your CD-player or watch video on your recorder in the same room. Today it can be demonstrated that home devices enable people the freedom to roam around their homes. You can watch TV in one room and continue watching the same program in another room on a different device. Moreover, we are able to show how the home network lets people control devices from anywhere in the home.
At any time
In anticipation of broadcast-quality TV becoming available in homes over broadband IP networks, people can watch TV programs at any time, and can interrupt (pause and resume) a live TV broadcast, to take a phone call for example, without having to miss anything. You can also get assistance in selecting your favorite TV programs and other content from the past, present or future, while accessing them from either a PC or other consumer devices. The project even demonstrates a version where the TV programs are automatically cached in the access network so that people don't have to remember to record programs on their local recorders anymore.
Even between homes
People who want to share content with those who are in different homes will not be disappointed either, because audio and video content can be shared between homes using interconnected-home devices such as TV sets and IP phones in combination with a high-speed Internet connection. Suppose you just came back from holiday and you want to show your pictures to your best friend. The HomeNet2Run consortium has worked out a practical solution that links your home devices via public networks to devices in another home so that you can share audio and video content and view it simultaneously.
HomeNet2Run now demonstrates key aspects of the interconnected-home architecture, including: HiperLAN2-based wireless connectivity, broadcast and on-demand video over IP, and bridging across Ethernet and 1394 networks, where the achievement of vendor interoperability means complete freedom of choice regarding equipment suppliers.
HomeNet2Run was launched in 2001 under the auspices of the ITEA (Information Technology for European Advancement) program within the EUREKA (Europe-wide Network for Market-Oriented Industrial R&D) framework. Consortium members include leading names in the worlds of electronics and research: Philips, Thomson, Sony International, Grundig, Canon, Deutsche Telekom, ATLINKS, STMicroelectronics, dZine, IMEC, PIMC, Jabil Circuit Belgium, CiaoLAB Technologies, CEFRIEL, Fraunhofer IIS, Technical University of Eindhoven. The website is located at http://www.homenet2run.org/.
Five of the DSP valley members contributed to the Eureka ITEA project HomeNet2Run: Philips Technology Campus Leuven (PTCL), STMicroelectronics-Belgium, IMEC, PIMC and Jabil Circuit Belgium. In Flanders this project has been funded by the IWT, the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders.