Electronics, Media Giants Form HD Alliance

Some of the world’s largest electronics and media companies yesterday joined together to work on high-definition television and audio standards for home entertainment networks.

Charter Communications, JVC, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, NBC Universal, Samsung and Sun Microsystems formed HANA, the High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance. In addition to the founding members, ARM, Freescale Semiconductor and Pulse-LINK have joined HANA as contributing members.

HANA members are working together to create a design guideline for secure high-definition audiovisual networks, which they hope will speed the creation of new, higher quality, easier-to-use HD products.

A Cross-Industry Effort

“HANA brings together content providers, consumer electronics, service providers and IT with the sole purpose of addressing HD needs, such as quality of service, ease of use and content protection,” said Dr. Heemin Kwon, HANA president and Samsung executive vice president.

“Since HANA is a cross-industry effort with members from each of the impacted HD industries, we can achieve the ‘win-win’ necessary to commercialize HD networks,” Kwon added. “HANA is a milestone among industry alliances because we are starting in the living room, not the home office.”

HANA’s mission is to use existing technology and specifications to create industry design guidelines that let consumers view, pause and record five or more HD channels simultaneously without compromising quality of service, as well as view, pause and record HD programming anywhere in the home with just one set-top box.

Cutting Down Cables

HANA also wants to enable consumers to share personal content between PCs and AV devices while keeping protected content secure; to control all AV devices and access content with just a single remote per room; and to add any device to the home network with just one cable.

HANA is in discussions with standards bodies, including the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), CableLabs, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) and the 1394 Trade Association.

HANA’s goal is to utilize these groups’ technologies to enable HD content sharing around the home. For example, by utilizing IEEE 1394 to connect devices, HANA said it would eliminate the confusing tangle of cables used to connect TVs with home theaters, DVD players and other consumer electronics products.

Todd Chanko, a media analyst with Jupiter Research, told TechNewsWorld the one-cable problem may be an issue that doesn’t necessarily need to be solved.

“While certainly everybody would like to be able to connect with fewer wires, the fact is — if you look at the broad history of people connecting devices in their homes — we’ve been doing this as a society for a long time now,” Chanko said.

One Remote Control Per Room

Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst with In-Stat, said a major benefit of HANA’s initiatives will be the ability for one remote control to manage all of the video equipment that gets connected to a HANA network.

“This ‘one remote control per room’ capability is a major breakthrough and presents a tremendous opportunity for consumers to finally be able to have easy access to all their home video content,” he said.

HANA-compliant products will include HDTVs, next-generation DVD players, personal video recorders, set-top cable boxes and home theaters. The first commercial products are expected to be available at International CES 2007.

Future Plans

In the first half of 2006, HANA plans to work with Advanced Access Content System (AACS), Open Media Commons and other digital rights management technologies to give consumers new flexibility in using content across the entire home network, including moving content across multiple devices.

The inclusion of copyright-detection technology in HANA products will allow consumers to access all of their personal video content while protecting content providers from piracy, HANA said. The anti-piracy measures will also help content providers make new HD content available to consumers in a more timely manner.

Looking ahead, HANA says it will also focus on advanced video compression technologies, interactive content, enhanced security, OpenCable Applications Platform and wireless extensions.

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