Connecting the Home Networking Dots

Last week, Philips, Sony, and Sun Microsystems formally announced plans to collaborate in connecting Sun's Jini technology with the Home Audio-Video interoperability (HAVi) architecture, which is being developed by several consumer-electronics manufacturers. According to a joint statement, the companies plan to provide a solution that links HAVi-compliant appliances in the home to services provided by Jini technology over a network.

According to Sun, Jini technology is based on the concept that devices should work together, allowing anyone to create a personal network anytime from anywhere. Today's notion of computing would be transformed from traditional, complex, independent computing environments to a "transparent collection of devices, services, and appliances all cooperating together." Sun says that Jini technology enables a device to connect to this collection or network of services simply by plugging into it---no drivers to find, no operating system to start and restart.

Sun claims that such a system would allow digital A/V appliances to access remote network services, such as a storage server for large video files; it would also allow users to remotely operate digital A/V appliances and PCs across a Jini-based distributed network. For example, the company says that such a system will make it possible to remotely access to your home-entertainment system; you could program it to, say, tape a television show from wherever you are.

Designed for use with the IEEE 1394 digital interface, HAVi supports the high-speed, secure transmission of data. Because the HAVi architecture allows products to reserve bandwidth and other resources, it should be well suited for the transmission of real-time A/V datastreams and other bandwidth-intensive applications. The joint venture between Philips, Sony, and Sun focuses on the creation of a bridge that will allow HAVi- and Jini-compliant products to communicate and interact.

"While HAVi provides extensive audio/video networking functions within the home, the HAVi/Jini technology bridge extends this concept by enabling remote access to the home network, regardless of the user's location," says Eddy Odijk of Philips. "This is a first major step to unleashing the potential of future technology to the home."