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Connecting Streaming to the Living Room

"Our devices provide detailed information on the types of content being watched, allowing for better decisions on creating new forms of targeted content, including advertising," said Bhupen Shah, CTO and cofounder of Sling Media. "We think the new forms of content are important to allow new ideas that balance between the consumer’s need or desire to view content—than ‘nickel and diming’ the consumer for every different place they want to watch the content—against the content owners need for piracy protection."

When asked about the need to expand content choice in the living room, such as streaming content from products such as the newly released Apple TV and the forthcoming Sling Catcher, panelists also offered sage advice.

"The challenge for the consumer is that they want one or two general devices to do everything," says Scott Voegele, Director of Product Marketing, Westell, "but don’t want to drill down into 50 menus to get to their phone or email or video or photos. Seamless ‘device shifting’ is needed to be able to address the challenge of not confusing the customer with all the features."

"What we’re talking about is the sharing of content between a consumer’s multiple devices," says John Bishop, senior VP of marketing at Inlet Technologies. "The consumer feels they’ve purchased content and wants to watch it. The content owner wants to limited content by user, not by device, so we need to close a business rules gap."

A possible solution to the multiple-device living room might be set to launch by the end of this year. Dubbed HANA, or the High-Definition Audio Video Network Alliance, a group of consumer device manufacturers is suggesting a unified remote control standard.

"The next big challenge is navigating all that content," says John Kang. "With HANA, the device (I want to) control simply appears, I select it contextually, and HANA knows I'm talking to that DVD player."

The difference between HANA and existing networks is that each HANA device must contain an IEEE 1394 or FireWire port. Instead of connecting via a composite or component cable, the primary device (typically a television) connects to the others via the FireWire cable, which also serves as a control mechanism. Due to the fact that FireWire—a 400Mbps data transport stream—is available between devices, the total cost of many products may be reduced.

"Components that often appear in multiple devices—such as MPEG decoders—can be omitted from those devices that manufacturers expect will be connected to a display," says Kang. "That omission reduces the bill of materials, and thus the final price of the product."

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