Connecting Your DVD Player to a Toaster Draws Ever Nearer

On May 14, Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Grundig, Sharp, Sony, Thomson Multimedia, and Toshiba announced that they have compiled a core home-networks specification for AV electronics appliances. The eight companies plan to actively promote this spec, called HAVi (Home Audio-Video interoperability), as a home-network standard for the AV electronics and multimedia industries.

The companies believe that consumers will find it necessary to connect their digital AV appliances to create home-entertainment networks in the near future. In order to interconnect and interoperate different brands of AV appliances, each one must incorporate certain software elements common to all appliances on the network. The HAVi specification defines these elements, their roles, and their functions. In addition, it ensures that the software elements in different appliances will work together.

According to the group, AV appliances that incorporate the HAVi specification will provide users with the following benefits:

Plug-and-Play Connectivity: Users will be able to create a home network by connecting various appliances through their digital interfaces, such as IEEE1394 (FireWire). If a user wants to add or remove an appliance, they will be able to do so without adjusting any settings. The appliances will be able to communicate, recognize changes in the network configuration, and automatically make adjustments to the necessary settings without interrupting the functioning of the network.

Appliance Interoperability: Not only will users be able to interconnect and interoperate AV appliances based on this specification, but appliances on the network will be able to share functionality. This means that any appliance will be able to use the functions and capabilities of many different appliances connected to the network.

Future-Proof Appliances: Once appropriate application software is developed, AV appliances incorporating this specification will be able to import functions from newer appliances into older products, as long as both of them incorporate the HAVi specification.

In a joint statement, the companies said they plan to promote the HAVi specification as an open standard not only for the AV electronics industry, but for the entire multimedia industry as well. The HAVi specification will soon be available for evaluation purposes.