The digital home is about much more than just entertainment – it’s about the marriage of computing and consumer electronics to give users a better experience in entertainment, education, healthcare and security.
“It’s much bigger than just entertainment,” says Sharad Gandhi, director of Intel’s digital health group. “Having said that, though, the current focus is squarely on entertainment – and this is the area that is growing the fastest.
“Using the technology for entertainment will drive the way users understand the digital home and other applications will following.”
Gandhi points out that the concept of entertainment is not new, but it changes in nature all the time.
“About 100 years ago, in order to be entertained, you would have had to be at the right place and the right time in order to enjoy something.
“With the advent of radio and television, it became possible to be sitting far away from where things were happening, and at another time. This was a big shift.
“What happened after that is that technology became portable, so people could take their entertainment with them.
“What we are seeing now is a further development in the way entertainment happens in the home,” he adds.
“There are do many more media available for consumption – such as television, movies, games – in addition to the user’s own content – like pictures, movies, music.
“These media are all becoming integrated together, even though they may be held in many different places. Users want to enjoy them wherever they are in the house, and take them with outside.”
What users are ultimately looking for is a single device that will allow them to access the media they want, when they want it and wherever they are.
“Intel’s solution to a lot of these needs is the ViiV technology,” says Gandhi. “It is Intel’s consumer platform and it lets users do most of what they want.”
What most households need to get started with the digital home concept, Gandhi says, is a television connected to a PC and a wireless network.
“This makes it easy to enjoy any media anywhere, regardless of where the main system is. And this network can easily be connected to other devices as they become available – it’s a matter of three-to-five minutes to set up a station on the network.
“Users can add a digital media adapter and they can start beaming content to other locations. For instance, users could stream content from the ViiV PC to any display via DMA – this lets multiple users enjoy your content.
“There are hundreds of manufacturers building these devices, in a variety of different form factors – they don’t always have to look like a PC.”
Intel has worked with other device manufacturers to ensure that there are no compatibility issues, but that computing and consumer electronic devices can be connected simply.
“All the different media flow into the PC and play through it,” Gandhi explains. “And the ViiV PC has an Intel dual-core processor since these applications require a lot of processing power.
“The platform supports high-definition video and surround sound and a lot of other features associated with consumer electronics.”
These features include a non-PC interface that is simple to use, he adds, and which lets users connect a multitude of home devices to the PC.
“Since there are more and more gadgets, locations and devices, the PC needs to be able to collect media and send it in the appropriate format to the right device. This is not a trivial feat, but the users doesn’t want to get involved in issues of different standards or protocols.
“All those things that have traditionally only been available to tech-savvy users are now mainstream.”
Some users are worried that the plethora of new computers and devices will generate heat, noise and electronic pollution, but Gandhi says these PCs are actually a lot cooler and quieter than expected.
“They are certainly no hotter than any other consumer electronic devices in the room. And in terms of noise, they are also not out of proportion to other appliances.”