network: link up to the future
Recently, some of the world\'s largest computer and consumer electronics companies lined up to announce plans for the home network.
Of course, the concept of online home is not new.
Several attempts have been made to produce \"home of the future\", in which electrical appliances such as lamps, televisions and washing machines are connected and controlled by central computers.
There is even a cult film, Devil Seed, in which Julie Christie\'s computerized family takes a fancy to her and injects her with a silicon that looks like a two-piece toaster
None of these attempts have been successful --
But recent announcements by Microsoft and its various competitors suggest that they have finally made some real progress.
In January, Sun Microsystems, the company that developed the Java programming language, announced its most ambitious home networking program.
Sun has been working on a Jini for several months (
Pronounced \"Elf \").
Jini is based on Java and any device can be \"Jini-
By adding low-
A computer chip capable of understanding Java programming commands.
This means that any electrical device you can think of can be part of the Kinney network --
Computers, cameras, video recorders, and even your toaster and kettle.
When you plug the device into the Jini network, it announces its presence to the central device called the lookup service.
This records all devices connected to the network and acts as a switch that allows them to communicate with each other.
Let\'s say you\'re on vacation and you want to print some photos taken with a digital camera.
When you return to the hotel room, you can plug the camera into the hotel\'s Kinney network.
The camera sends a message to the lookup service saying: \"Hi, I am the camera and am looking for a printer.
The lookup service will then find the nearest printer on the network and connect the camera to the printer.
Extend this idea to your home and you can have a universal remote control to control almost all the appliances in your home, from simple light switches to more traditional devices such as central heating systems or CD players and VCR.
But what\'s really impressive about Jini is that it\'s not limited to individual locations.
Kinko, an international printing chain, said it could use Jini on the Internet to get people to send documents to printing equipment in any of its bureaus around the world.
This means that Jini has the potential to create a new global network faster than the Internet.
\"We are far from ordinary citizens to understand what this means,\" said Ericsson\'s Billy Moon . \" He plans to develop Jini-
Mobile phones and pagers are enabled in the near future.
But the potential of Kinney is huge.
Everything on the Internet
\"Needless to say, Microsoft is not very interested in the idea of a Java-based global network.
Microsoft recently announced its general plug-and-play program, hoping the world will use its Windows technology.
Universal plug-and-play is more limited than Jini because it focuses primarily on interconnected devices inside the home.
Microsoft has put together an impressive list of companies to announce support for its plans, including Intel, AT&T, Compaq and Dell.
However, the details of exactly how generic plug-and-play works are still vague.
This contrasts with the Jini demonstrated by Sun, which shows that the system is running and controls many devices.
This shows that the general plug-and-play announcement is only a spoiler designed to attract people to its arch-rival, Sun.
But Microsoft is worried that competition from outside the computer industry may be better.
The opening speech at last month\'s annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was published by Sony\'s Howard Stringer, which launched with several other consumer electronics companies.
Home audio/video interoperation.
HAVI is the most modest of these home networking systems.
It is not designed to connect your toilet to your toaster or any other electrical appliance at home.
Instead, it pays special attention to audio and video devices such as CD players, video recorders and televisions.
Any HAVI device on the network can take advantage of the functions and facilities of any other device, so the typical HAVI network will use the TV screen as the main interface, CD or DVD player for the VCR.
\"Your Digital TV will be the center --
A nerve center in the future home, \"Stringer said.
\"It will perform a magic trick that consumers want most, allowing them to access their PC and audio seamlessly --
Video function of a single control.
\"Sony and other HAVI organizers claim they will release their first HAVI device by the end of this year, and they also work with Sun to allow HAVI and Jini to work together.
This means that HAVI can be used as a primary network system within an individual home or as a link to connect your home to a wider global Jini network.
But before all of this connectivity and networking happens, computer manufacturers and consumer electronics companies must
Make sure all their products work properly.
Sony recognized that, and Stringer argued, \"We have to change the way we do business.
There must be an unprecedented level of cooperation. operation.
\"However, if you look at the list of companies in Harvey group --
Including Sony, Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips
You can see that these companies have been arguing over 7 different versions of DVD formats over the last few years.
In other words, cyber homes may be technically possible, but this will not happen unless the consumer electronics industry is united to make a change.
This is bad news for electronics enthusiasts, but at least Julie Christie can relax for a while.