Connected Home 2011 Preview: Google TV, Samsung, and More

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Connected Home 2011 is a brand new summit at Streaming Media Europe that covers the distribution of digital media over data networks to and through the home.

Streaming media and digital downloads are no longer confined to the web. They are increasingly important elements of the home entertainment experience, destined to displace physical formats.

The information technology, telecommunications, and broadcasting industries are converging on the connected home. As more homes become connected to ever-faster broadband networks, with wired and wireless networks within the home connecting even more devices and displays, the living room is the focus of a fight for the future of home entertainment.

As the founder of informitv, the convergent media consultancy, and editor of the Connected Vision newsletter, I was delighted to be invited to chair this conference and to be given a free hand to set the agenda, without commercial compromise. The result, I hope, will be a refreshing debate and discussion, bringing together the protagonists in this unfolding domestic drama and seeing how the rhetoric of the connected home compares to reality.

Digital convergence has long been predicted, but in practice we are seeing a divergence of devices and displays, from smartphones and media tablets to network-connected media players and televisions. What they all have in common is network connectivity based on internet standards.

Consumers can create their own connected home media and entertainment environment. No longer is it necessary to wire homes with dedicated cabling to distribute audio and video, which can now be delivered over mains wiring or wireless networks to wherever it is wanted. This was until recently the province of early adopters, but it is rapidly becoming mainstream.

Digital media libraries can be accessed from network-attached storage devices or from the internet cloud, making them available throughout the home, or anywhere with network connectivity.

Smartphones and tablets can become remote controls, with advanced user interfaces that allow users to browse and discover media and then send it to the most appropriate output device. Home automation can even be integrated to control lighting to suit the mood.

Standards are emerging to make this a more plug-and-play experience, but there is some way to go before multiple devices can easily interoperate within the connected home.

All this means more competition for our attention. Technology providers, consumer electronics companies, and telecommunication network operators are now competing with pay-television platforms and broadcasters for a share of our screen time.

The Connected Home event looks at this complex environment from the perspectives of the key players.

  • Computer technologies can now deliver media and entertainment experiences from the network cloud to users on different devices and displays in the connected home and beyond.
  • Consumer electronics manufacturers are bringing new features and functions to differentiate their products. Once a dumb terminal, the television is becoming a smart screen, connected through the internet to a new world of media and entertainment possibilities
  • Telecommunications companies are seeking to control the gateway to the digital home, competing with pay-television platform operators that are bundling broadband with their offering.
  • Broadcasters have long had a central place in the heart of the household but are now able to reach the connected home with new services to establish a direct relationship with individual viewers and listeners.

These major industries are headed on a collision course, but to succeed they will need to work together. It is unlikely that a single winner will end up owning the consumer, but understanding the roles and relationships of the various players will enable participants to position themselves in the connected value network.

Hear from leading experts at Virgin Media, Google TV, Samsung, DLNA, Amino, and others in this special summit and find out what the connected home means for you.

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