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Preface

Preface

Many consumers access the Internet, e-commerce stores, and e-mail accounts from the comfort of their homes. The home networking business is now only beginning and is expected to soar in the next couple of years as more and more households around the world connect to the Internet. Many large IT and telecommunication companies are planning to offer a range of new products that will allow entertainment devices and PCs scattered around your household to "talk to each other." Allied Business Intelligence estimates that the home networking equipment marketplace will grow dramatically to reach $2.4 billion by 2005.

Simply put, a digital home network is a cluster of audio/visual (A/V) devices, including set-top boxes, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, and general-purpose computing devices such as personal computers. Companies that are involved in the home networking industry need to convince consumers that the new technology can help them save time, make organizing activities more convenient, and can even entertain them. With the steady rise in high-speed access to the Web and the proliferation of households with multiple PCs, the need for home networking solutions has increased dramatically in recent months. Several companies and organizations have responded to this need by developing standards and affordable solutions for consumers. The creation of open standards is an important catalyst for creating high-growth consumer markets. Adopting such a strategy will allow the home networking market to grow faster, without interruption, and will keep consumers confident that the products they buy today will continue to be viable solutions for the future.

Because no single technology fulfills all of the application requirements of the home network, multiple technologies will be deployed at different times, each addressing the needs of unique market segments. Several technology development efforts are currently underway to support the application requirements of the home network. Organizations like HomePNA and HomeRF are primarily focused on the networking of PCs and peripheral devices together. In parallel to these developments, groups, companies, and technologies such as HAVi, UPnP, HomePnP, LonWorks, Digital Harmony, and Jini are actively promoting software systems for networking PCs, home control, and entertainment systems together. In parallel to these in-home technology developments, an industry group called OSGi is working to define and promote an open software standard for connecting the coming generation of smart appliances with commercial network service providers. This book unravels the benefits, technical details, and features of all of these.

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