Home Toys Interview
- September 2004 -
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To learn about how OSGi technology is driving this convergence, your best bet is to attend our third annual World Congress, which will be held this year in Barcelona, Spain on October 11-15. The web site is www.osgiworldcongress.com
The OSGi™ Alliance was started in 1999 by an international group of manufacturers, software developers, service providers and utilities to develop and promote a common delivery and management platform for application services. Over the years, the Alliance has delivered several releases of its Service Platform and has enjoyed a renewed appeal as mobile service delivery and advanced automotive Telematics have emerged as hot markets. We recently had an opportunity to sit down with John Barr, board member and president of the OSGi Alliance, and Director of Standards Realization for Motorola Corporation to get caught up on what's new with OSGi technology.
HomeToys: John, when the OSGi Alliance got started in 1999, its original focus was on home gateways, right?
JB: When we got started, the Internet had made its presence felt. At the time, various standards and specifications had been released to leverage this connectivity and access - DSL for phone lines, DOCSIS for cable, DBS satellite, etc. - along with various in-home network standards like HomePNA, HomeRF, Wi-Fi and others.
One missing component was a Services Gateway - a set-top box, cable or DSL Modem, a PC, a web phone, or a dedicated automotive, multimedia, or residential gateway - to act as a reception and distribution point for bundles of managed services like telephony, data networking, cable services, video streams, energy management and home controls. So we set out to develop a service delivery specification, a middleware API to act as the 'glue' in this new value chain, and we accomplished that. That was our vision at the outset and all the data we've seen since confirms it was the right thinking.
HomeToys: So how has that focus changed?
JB: As the specifications developed, other markets showed great interest in the technology, especially in the Telematics industry. We forged a relationship with the Automotive Multimedia Interface Collaboration (AMI-C), a global organization of vehicle manufacturers to move the Telematics initiative forward and we've had great success there too. In addition, our specifications are used in various European telematics projects, such as ERTICO 3 GT and ERTICO GST, which are funded by the European Commission, and the Asian market has started to join forces as well.
Most recently, the OSGi Alliance announced the formation of the Mobile Expert Group (MEG), a new working body designed to further promote the use of OSGi technology in the mobile space. Comprised of industry leaders including BMW, Gatespace Telematics, IBM, Motorola, Nokia, Oracle, Panasonic, ProSyst, Siemens, Sun Microsystems, Telcordia Technologies and others, the MEG will extend the OSGi Service Platform for mobile devices that are data-capable.
To learn about how OSGi technology is driving this convergence, your best bet is to attend our third annual World Congress, which will be held this year in Barcelona, Spain on October 11-15.
HomeToys: What's in store for the OSGi Alliance 2004 World Congress?
JB: The theme for this years Congress: "Convergence: Going Mobile, Driving and Staying Home with OSGi Solutions". The congress is an open-to-the-public conference with keynotes, breakout sessions, exhibitions, and pre- and post-event workshops for people interested in gaining a deeper technical understanding. It's a great chance to hear the world's top experts on commercially available and developing OSGi implementations and explore the products and solutions across mobile, automotive and home environments.
To truly showcase the OSGi technology, there's going to be a special tour of the e-Neo Labs Connected Home on the outskirts of Barcelona. This is a unique opportunity to see how the OSGi technology is used in a home environment. This is available on a first-come-first-served basis for a limited number of attendees. Obviously there's much more going on than I can describe here. The web site is www.osgiworldcongress.com for agenda, online registration and further information.
HomeToys: Great. But now taking a few steps back, what has the OSGi Alliance accomplished and what are some of the recent deliverables?
JB: Quite a bit. In 2003, we issued the third release of the OSGi Service Platform, and this year we focused mainly on the mobile market. A few years ago, we introduced a Compliance program and now have more than 12 compliant solutions on the market. We launched a number of liaison programs with key related organizations like AMI-C, ERTICO 3GT, to reflect the needs of the Telematics industry in the development of OSGi specifications. Plus, we've involved small companies and academic institutions in our process, and spent a lot of time and effort to educate our target communities on the benefits of OSGi technology. We're pleased with our progress.
In automotive and Telematics environment, the 5 series BMW uses the OSGi specifications as the base technology for its high-end infotainment platform. The On-Board Computer from Groeneveld uses the OSGi service platform for innovative fleet management, and Bombardier Transportation has already delivered 24 electric locomotives ALP 46 to the American New Jersey Transit, that include the Remote Diagnosis System (RDS) utilizing an OSGi service platform. This is showing how the automobile and other vehicles of the future will become increasingly an integral element within a network of information and services.
For those in the SmartHome area, there are companies such as ShellHomeGenie and BSH, who have already launched their innovative solutions to the market. While ShellHomeGenie introduced an easy to use home automation system for the end user market with the help of Motorola, ProSyst, Sun,and Xanboo, BSH utilizes the OSGi Service Platform for remote monitoring and management of its White Good series "serve@home". . France Telecom R&D and Thomson Multimedia have a home service platform, based on OSGi technology, and E2Home is already deploying in Sweden. Infinis has a service center that allows service providers to operate residential gateways and home appliances.. Siemens Medical Solutions, InterComponentWare, and Linköping University are using the OSGi technology for medical devices.
One of the newest products in the Consumer Electronics marketplace is Philips OSGi-based iPronto. The iPronto is a wireless home control panel that provides consumers with a versatile solution to control their home theatre as well as increasing the number of electronic home automation products.
For those who are service providers, there are Motorola's advanced residential gateway products for the delivery of services and applications. Cisco has a product that manages service levels between enterprises and internal or external service providers. A project led by the French electric utility company Electricité de France (EdF) uses an OSGi-based service software architecture for the implementation of various consumer-oriented services. Plus, IBM WebSphere® Everyplace® Device Manager V5 is tailor-made to help service providers simplify the management of a wide range of wireless and mobile end-user devices. And that's just to name a few. This shows the broad acceptance of our specification.
HomeToys: So why would I care about the OSGi technology? What's the value proposition?
JB: Well, as an end-user you wouldn't care, because OSGi technology is basically invisible to you. But if you're in the consumer electronics or Telematics ecosystems, or a service provider or operator, you would care a lot. What OSGi technology does is provide you with a secure platform to remotely and dynamically deploy, provision and manage new and add-on applications and services to networked devices. You no longer have to do truck rolls or expensive visits to a customer premise or recall cars and products every time a product needs attention-- you install, start, stop, or remove provisioned services remotely without retrofitting or shipping new hardware every time. You can integrate and introduce services and applications from multiple sources into a unique branded package without worrying about overall integrity because OSGi technology has dependency management and customizable security capabilities.
And you can take advantage of the standardized API's and execution Environment to decrease development cycles, costs and time-to-market.
So, the OSGi Service Framework allows those who deploy it to maximize their profitability, develop new revenue streams, enhance overall ROI through the extension of life cycles of products in the field; and, improve customer satisfaction and service.
HomeToys: Can you comment on alternatives to the OSGi Service Platform, such as UPnP, HAVi, and DVB, for example? How does OSGi technology relate to these solutions?
JB: I suppose they could be alternatives but that thinking goes back to the early days, when we got started. The OSGi Service Platform Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) can support these standards and provide a consistent and standard set of APIs for connecting and accessing devices. It can also be integrated with UPnP since the services gateway standard is an entirely open specification providing its own device API that can be interfaced to UPnP enabled devices. Additionally, the OSGi Service Platform Release 3 of the specification includes recommendations for integrating UPnP™ services in an OSGi environment. The beauty of the OSGi Service Platform is that you can integrate most solutions simply by defining what we call a bundle for it. So pretty much anything you can think about is complementary.
HomeToys: Will the OSGi Service Platform be deployed more in the network or in devices?
JB: It depends what you define as a network, if you consider CPE part of the network. Our feeling is OSGi technology will be in devices and the network, since the value proposition is so compelling in each case. Any successful deployment will have to be an end-to-end solution from the Data Center over the network to the CPE. The OSGi Service Platform enables support of multiple service providers on a common, modular platform with tunable security mechanism and the ability to complement native code environment and augment pure Java bundles with alternate payloads such as markup languages, graphic images, and native libraries. It also permits the integration of existing software-components.
HomeToys: What's next for the OSGi Alliance?
JB: We've been fortunate enough to come out with three releases of the OSGi Service Platform since our creation in 1999, and are in development of Release 4. I think that success can be attributed to the concept of open specifications developed by great companies in collaboration. We'll continue to gather requirements and issue new Service Platform releases, and you'll see us take our members collaboration and apply it to other categories. The need for OSGi technology is apparent, and, as you can see, first OSGi-based products have been already launched to the market - now it's all about further realization.
The OSGi Alliance and its members specify, create, advance, and promote wide industry adoption of an open delivery and management platform for application services in home, commercial buildings, automotive and industrial environments. The OSGi Alliance serves as the focal point for a collaborative ecosystem of service providers, developers, manufacturers, and consumers. The OSGi specifications define a standardized, component oriented, computing environment for networked services. OSGi technology is currently being delivered in products and services shipping from several Fortune Global 100 companies. The OSGi Alliance's horizontal software integration platform is ideal for both vertical and cross-industry business models within mobile, vehicle, home and industrial environments. As an independent non-profit corporation, the OSGi Alliance also provides for the fair and uniform creation and distribution of relevant intellectual property - including specifications, reference implementations, and test suites - to all its members. www.osgi.org