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Sony ties in with Sun to drive CE kit

Jini and HAVi bring PlayStation 2 based home entertainment networks a step closer

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Sony has agreed to build Sun's Java and Jini technologies into its digital consumer electronics products. The move wasn't entirely unexpected. Sony has been making noises about its vision of home entertainment systems seamlessly networked with each other and the Internet for some time, most notably in reference to the upcoming PlayStation 2, but this is perhaps the first time it's discussed the technology that's going to make all of this work. The plan calls for Sony's digital appliances to support the Home Audio-Video Interoperability (HAVi) scheme, which essentially allows devices to connect to each other through IEEE 1394 (or iLink, as Sony calls it) links, using it both as a data transport mechanism and to communicate. The concept here is that your HAVi-compliant TV can not only display pictures via iLink from your HAVi DVD player, but allow your HAVi VCR to use the TV's digital decoder to receive and record programmes while you're watching something else -- essentially the VCR gets to 'use' the TV. The other interesting thing about HAVi is the way it allows both wider access to the Web, and allows one device to act as a visual front end to other devices. All of which sounds remarkably like the way Sony has been describing the broader role of the PlayStation 2 -- just hook it up to your TV and thence to your other HAVi devices, and you can use the console to program your video and pick up Web-located digital content. HAVi was launched back in May 1998 to provide an intelligent scheme for networking consumer electronics kit, and is based on Java, which is where Sun comes into all of this. The HAVi beta spec. called for a series of data-stream, device-interoperability and device-management APIs. And -- neatly --that's largely what Sun has been working on in the meantime, coming up with Jini, Java Embedded Server and Sun Management Center software, all of which pretty much provide all of the software components the original HAVi spec. called for. There's clearly some work still to do, specifically to tie Jini into HAVi, but the timing of this latest announcement suggests that Sony is on course to demo HAVi-based digital appliances by the end of the year, as originally planned. ®

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