A la carte TV, intelligent toasters, self-replenishing fridges and the radio that only plays the tunes that you like… Where does the fiction become reality and when is the society to step over the threshold of the Digital Lifestyle era? The time is now.

Previously we have connected to each other using traditional POTs (Plain Old Telephony) services and cellular networks and saw the world through broadcast ‘mass’media. In today’s consumer world, being connected “any time, anywhere” and receiving “My media” on demand – is a rightful requirement. Millions of devices are connected by a host of industry-approved standards that have been maturing for decades to become robust network platforms.

The infrastructure of the web offers the immediacy of content and communications and changes the paradigm of consuming communication utilities and content services. IP networks operate differently to the legacy systems they replace: consumers watch what they want, access services instantaneously and actively interact with products.

Digital Media Connected… New Markets. Proven technology

We know of no other communication medium that offers sophistication that rivals that of the Internet. The business model behind Google exploits the data mining qualities of the internet and inherently active role of the media user. The precision with which the company targets web users ensures its perennial success which is defined in simple terms – the high user response ratio, meaning that it delivers what the consumer wants.

Key Facts about the Internet

1969 Advanced Research Projects Agency launches ARPAnet, the first multiple-site computer network connected with a common protocol

1972 First e-mail programs were written by Ray Tomlinson, “@” sign chosen to imply the ‘at’ meaning.

1974 Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn publish “A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection,” outlining TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) for reliable connectivity and exchange of network data.

1981 IBM announces its first Personal Computer.

1990 Tim Berners-Lee writes first web browser for the World Wide Web, that accesses content in HTML format from a HTTP server, utilising a URI framework

1992 “Surfing the Internet” phrase is coined by Jean Armour Polly.

The scope of business benefits afforded by the targeted approach to delivery of services bears substantive economic significance. The operator or device vendor can ensure the relevance of delivered entertainment based on real-time user statistics easily collected based on the unique device identification and user habits. Non-profitable content can be withdrawn from the inventory and popular programs can be offered at premium rates. Embracing the opportunities of the web could change the way content is distributed by media companies.

The limits and horizons of web technologies – specifications and standards

Since its birth in the Swinging Sixties, the Internet has come a long way. Standardisation spearheaded by W3C and the computing industry community, including Microsoft, Intel and Sun Microsystems have embraced and extended the medium, maximising its commercial meaning. Taking the standards further, a host of companies are working on bringing the features, traditionally associated with the so called 2-foot user interface experience, such as searching for information, receiving weather and traffic updates, RSS news feeds, internet radio and media “search and play”- to consumer electronics and mobile appliances. Among these companies, are web browsers, services infrastructure companies from the CE and PC camps, such as Loudeye and Microsoft, chipset makers Intel, Broadcom and regional Internet Service Providers striving to deliver new value in order to boost the number of subscriptions.

Much of the work is still in progress with competition thriving for prevailing DRM (Digital Rights Management) and media gateway device status, with the PC vs CE dilemma still up in the air. However, the foundation for delivery of such services has solidified and many service delivery components, such as content protection, Quality of Service (responsible for reliable delivery of media streams to home media devices), and network architecture have evolved to an industry consensus status.

Changing the definitions

The original definition of the World Wide Web was formulated in terms of connectivity between multiple PCs. Now it is referencing a network of interoperable devices capable of sending and receiving documents formatted in HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language), transferred via HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol). Browser technology is at the core of the data exchange. In the home entertainment scenario, the browser technology serves as a presentation technology of the service’s Graphical User Interface, as well as supporting connectivity to graphics, audio, and video. Alternative browser companies such as Opera Software and Oregan Networks have created and implemented their technologies on a variety of low-powered consumer electronics, including the high volume mobile platforms, gaming consoles and IP Set Top Boxes. Developing such technologies to suit non-PC platforms enlists ultimate skills for software code optimisation, to ensure the ability of the browser software to render efficiently on cost-effective devices: IP-STBs, network PVRs, connected DVD players and portable media players.

Oregan Networks has taken this development a step further, complementing the high specifications of its browser with media streaming capabilities and exploiting the intrinsic synergies of the web with UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) standards. The amalgamation of these industry-proven standards amounts to an optimal platform for accessing remote services and home network media. A unified approach to developing solutions for connected devices has enabled Oregan to create a hardware agnostic interoperable solution for the manufacturers of convergent devices and service operators, powering targeted delivery and multiroom distribution of web based portal content, including subscription or pay-per-view media, thus significantly minimising device development and service integration effort.

User Interface response times that define the quality of the end consumer’s experience, are compressed owing to consistent utilisation of web content rendering mechanisms for any content, irrespective of the source. The company’s success of delivering marketing portals to the PlayStation 2 gaming console and a number of VOD (Video on Demand) set top boxes in Japan is reinforced by its close alignment with industry standard proponents such as Sony, Intel, Philips and building its solutions on W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), UPnP, DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) and CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) standards and guidelines. This standards-based platform approach fundamentally alters the economics of service and device delivery, opening up the market for web content on a wide array of interoperable devices.