I'm getting cynical in my old age. Seems to me that HANA is just another in a long series of "this digital interface is the answer to all our interoperability problems," only to be obsoleted very soon by another incompatibile digital interface. DVI, DVI/HDCP, HDMI, HDMI 1.3, and news items suggesting that the whole HDMI approach is soon to become obsolete, are the obvious examples of the last very few years. So, HANA bets on IEEE 1394. But wait. That in turn depends on internal MPEG decoders in each device, which will be MPEG-2 (H.262) for some time to come. And it's not wireless. Hmmm. How long will HANA remain compatible? Only until wireless PANs and/or H.264 or some other codec start becoming popular. Only as long as DTCP isn't hacked. Only as long as an equipment vendor doesn't come up with a feature that HANA does not support. Quoting: "HANA leaves it up to consumers to decide where they want to be entertained. By fostering collaboration, HANA allows each industry to play to its strengths, improving the consumer's experience and their desire to buy more products, services and content." But wait. There is no desired collaboration among the various industries. All I see in this is an attempt to increase the customers' need "to buy more products, services and content." That's need, not desire, as stated in the quote above. The only interfaces that have been able to make use of all the quality improvements so far, in a truly compatible manner, have been the analog video component and the analog baseband audio interfaces. And this includes the most recent 1080p displays, according to The Perfect Vision. Digital interfaces become obsolete, the analog seem uncannily capable of remaining useful. (Oh, I forgot, those clever analog interfaces can now be disabled by the disc. I'm sure somehow, that is for the consumer's benefit too.) What has saved us from instant obsolescence in the past? It has been that these supposed improvements arrive and are obsoleted so fast that not a single one of them has ever been able to establish itself. Therefore, manufacturers have had to retain some truly compatible ways to make all the boxes play together, or they would simply lose their customers. So perhaps HANA will become available, but only as yet another spigot in boxes that have an ever increasing assortment of optional interfaces. Now, I wonder. Does this increasing assortment of jacks make the average consumer think the HANA box is simpler? Bert ------------------------------------------------ http://www.digitaltvdesignline.com/howto/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=193 005209 October 04, 2006 Why HANA, why now? Hana's goal is to create standards-based solutions to enhance the consumer HD entertainment experience By Bill Rose, President of WJR Consulting The High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance, is the first cross-industry collaboration to address the end-to-end needs of connected, high definition, home entertainment products and services. What makes HANA unique is its list of founding members, which includes leading companies from the four industries most impacted by the HD revolution " Content Providers, Consumer Electronics, Service Providers and Information Technology " and their focus on the consumer experience. HANA's goal is to create standards-based solutions to facilitate commercial deployment of connected products and services that will enhance the consumer HD entertainment experience. To achieve this, HANA will work with its member companies and organizations such as the Consumer Electronics Association, the 1394 Trade Association, CableLabs, the Motion Picture Association of America and others to ensure that its solutions meet the needs of all stakeholders, including consumers. Those needs include ensuring HANA products will stream high definition A/V content and related services, simply and reliably throughout the home without compromising the rights of content owners or those of the consumer. Background Approximately 85% of U.S. households receive their TV programming services from cable or satellite roadcasters DTV sales are projected to grow from 17 million units in 2004 to 77 million units in 2008 Entertainment is rapidly moving toward on-demand (cable, satellite, IPTV) and time-shift viewing (personal video recorders), and away from fixed-schedule broadcasts IEEE 1394 is the only digital interface that has an FCC mandate to be included in Digital Cable Set Top Boxes Consumers are confronted with an increasingly confusing set of connections, remote controls and set-up options as new digital products and services are introduced. Increasingly, content is being delivered to the home over broadband connections that today terminate at the PC; however, most consumers do not want to watch movies and TV programs or listen to music on their PCs. So what does this have to do with home networking? And more importantly, what is HANA doing to create and deploy home networks while simplifying the consumer experience? To answer these questions requires an understanding of the business models of the four industries that HANA represents. Consumer Electronics: Profits generally come from higher-end products including HDTV and sources of HD content. Service Providers: Profits come from billable services. Hardware (STBs, satellite receivers, modems) is simply a means to an end, providing access to those services their customers have agreed to pay for. Content Owners: The value of content is related to its availability. Increased availability means increased profits, as long as strong copy protections and DRM mechanisms are in place. Information Technology: Profits come from a combination of hardware, software and services, with the focus on the PC and its connection to the Internet. However, IT's strength, which in large part comes from the PC being an open platform, complicates its participation in delivering high-value content and services. Content owners are concerned that the PC and the Internet may be used to circumvent content protections. On the surface these industries appear to be at odds. Service providers only need a monitor to deliver their services as long as there is an STB in the loop; yet, DTV manufacturers will see little profit if they only sell monitors. Content owners want to reach more consumers; but, fear the PC and home networks. And IT companies want to move into the living room, which is seen as competitive to CE and Service Providers, and potentially leading to the 'Napsterization' of video entertainment. HANA's members see a different picture. The reality is that the four business models are very complementary. CE companies make money selling hardware that stores, plays back and displays content delivered by service providers. Service providers want to reduce their capital expenditures, eliminating the need for a set top box (STB) at every TV. Additionally, DTV manufacturers compete with each other based on the quality of their picture which consumers can compare in retail stores and in online product reviews. STBs on the other hand are driven primarily by cost. Now that Congress has mandated that every DTV include a digital tuner (and therefore an MPEG decoder), consumers will enjoy a higher quality picture from MPEG sources such as the STBs 1394 port. The STB (or cable card) becomes simply a toll booth for MPEG packets. All of this requires networks and network services, storage and software, which are the domain of IT companies. The PC is still an important part of the picture. But instead of being the point where broadband networks terminate, it becomes just one more connected device. HANA leaves it up to consumers to decide where they want to be entertained. By fostering collaboration, HANA allows each industry to play to its strengths, improving the consumer's experience and their desire to buy more products, services and content. The Home Network The home network connects more than just devices; it connects industries. Unfortunately, the home network with its promise of seamless access to libraries of content and exciting new services has not yet arrived. The problem is not a lack of suitable technologies to achieve the vision; it is an issue of interoperability. Different companies and industries use different network technologies, protocols, media formats, etc. It takes time to work through the differences. More importantly, it takes companies from the impacted industries to come together and find a solution that will benefit everyone. There is a second problem that is perhaps even more difficult to solve. It is the consumer, or more correctly, the consumer's habits and expectations. The mass-market customer takes time to become comfortable with major shifts in technology and user interfaces. They prefer smaller steps that build on what they are already comfortable with. Consumers today see their A/V products as a series of connected devices, each performing a relatively simple and easily understood task. Each device is operated directly using an IR remote control. More complicated features are accessed through menus displayed on the TV and navigated using the same dedicated remote control. It is far from perfect but consumers are used to the idiosyncrasies. There are two problems with the current paradigm that cause the vast majority of complaints consumers have with their entertainment products: confusing connections (component, composite, S-Video, DVI, and the resulting problem of selecting AV1, AV2, channel 3 or 4, etc.) and too many remote controls or 'universal' remotes that are not 'universal' and that must be programmed. The challenge for any networking solution is to not only meet the business needs of the four industries, but to deliver simple and compelling solutions to the consumer. Ideally, any solution will also solve these problems without dramatically altering the user interface so the consumer does not have to relearn everything. Unfortunately, the complex middleware solutions being developed by some companies add a great deal of complexity (cost) to their products and may not satisfy the security needs of the content owners. The Solution: HANA HANA members envision a simpler transition to networked A/V products for the product developer, the service provider and the consumer. Connector confusion is eliminated through the use of 1394 or FireWire. Any device can be connected to any other device with a single cable, common across all HANA devices. The user interface (UI) is then delivered over the 1394 interface using well-established Web technologies " browsers and Web servers. A connected device is selected using the DTVs own remote control, whereupon that device serves up its own UI for display on the DTV. Devices do not need to have custom software drivers installed to interoperate. If they are HANA devices, they are guaranteed to interoperate. By taking these two simple steps, many of the problems with the current non-networked connection and control paradigm are solved, without changing the user interface model. Consumers continue to control their devices as they do now, except that one cable and one remote control do it all, without software updates, or having to enter IR codes on a universal remote control. Using HANA enabled products, the consumer will see a top-level menu on the DTV that shows all of the devices that are connected. This top-level menu can be defined by the DTV or by a HANA compliant STB, satellite receiver or IPTV STB. Consumers will be able to select any product and control it using either the DTV's remote control or that of the service provider. The choice is left to the consumer. No more switching between multiple remotes. With a simple click on the primary remote control, any connected device will display its own user interface on any connected display. Benefits For service providers, HANA's solutions allow them to maintain control of their content, billing and the consumer viewing experience. It provides a low cost method for the STB and satellite receiver to interoperate with the CE products consumers will want to connect. In fact, using a cable card enabled DTV, the service provider does not even need to provide an STB. The cable card will provide the interface to the services and simply forward the digital content (MPEG2, MPEG4, program guide, etc.) to the DTV for decoding and display, reducing capital expenditures and the need for a truck roll. Also, since the FCC now requires that all DTVs incorporate tuners going forward, every DTV will have an MPEG decoder. For the content owner, basic security is provided through the use of 1394 and the already approved Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP) license. HANA is also working on advanced solutions with interoperable Digital Rights Management and copyright detection that will create a secure home network where consumers can have increased access to and more flexible use of premium content. Additionally, HANA is working on a solution for localization (footnote 1) to ensure that protected content cannot be sent back out over the Internet unless allowed under the terms agreed to by the content owner and the consumer and/or service provider. CE manufacturers and IT companies will be able to deliver exciting new products and features to their customers, while simultaneously simplifying the user experience, rather than further complicating it as has too often been the case when new technologies are introduced. Just as importantly, a product that ships today will not become obsolete every time something new is introduced. New products will be required to adhere to the baseline standard guaranteeing interoperability with existing products. Finally, the consumer can easily: Connect all products using one type of cable View all of the HANA as well as all legacy 1394 products on any connected DTV display Select a product to operate, and control or view the status of that device And do it all with one remote control Consumers get to operate their products the way they are already accustomed to, yet the biggest problems associated with today's products " complex connection and setup, and multiple remote controls " are eliminated. With HANA, everyone wins. Footnotes: (1) Localization is a means to ensure two devices are local to each other. Secure handshakes must take place within a predetermined period of time to ensure the devices are not connected via the Internet. About the author Bill Rose, president of WJR Consulting, is also the chairman of the Consumer Electronics Association's R7 Home-Networking Committee. He also participates in HANA's technical and business working groups and task groups. He can be reached at admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx All material on this site Copyright 2006 CMP Media LLC. All rights reserved ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.