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The digital home cometh, says Intel

They really mean it this time

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IDF Fall '04 The digital home will be big news in 2005, Intel said today at IDF, backing up similar predictions made in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

This year the big chip firm says that gaming and entertainment will be the two areas to really make an impact with consumers. Focus groups identified five other areas where technology would be a real benefit to them: communication, home management, work, education and health.

According to Mike Trainor, chief mobile technology evangelist for Intel’s Mobile Platforms Group, this is not yet another blue-sky scenario where consumers come home to a Jetsons-style automated house, but a more practical application of technology.

"We're talking about appliances that monitor themselves and tell you when they are about to break, and monitoring power and water usage so that you can keep an eye on your bills," he said.

Consumers were also very keen on being able to organise "virtual gatherings" with family, and, in particular, said that they wanted to be able to record coversations for posterity, according to Trainor. Something to bear in mind when calling your spouse after one too many beers, perhaps.

The technologist argues that Intel's role in this is to create the "silicon building blocks" that will make embarrassing phone calls and appliance monitoring possible. Trainor said that it was important that the consumer experience was consistent across devices and applications, so standards were a vital part of the story.

"Driving industry standards will go a long way to making sure this technology is reliable and ubiquitous," he said. Making the technology simple to use, however, is a challenge for the rest of the industry.

Intel's market research revealed that there are three requirements the technology must meet before consumers buy in in a big way. The kit needs to be simple, reliable, and widely used. After all, no one wants to be the only geek on the block.

Andy Crump, director of digital home technology solutions architecture and initiatives at Intel, said the company has just published new guidelines for developers working on product design: Network Media Product requirements.

Crump also chairs the Digital Living Network Association's standards committee, and says that the two sets of standards are complementary. The new NMPR document from Intel builds on the DLNA guidelines to cover standards for remotely controlling devices and handling the delivery of premium content. ®

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