The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parents at party, PC on watch

New Delhi, April 13: The concept of a “happy home” is all set to change.

In an eerie reminder of the Orwellian concept of the big brother watching, kids at home have the prospect of mom and pop going off to a party and still spying on them to see whether they are studying, watching TV or engaging in a pillow fight.

Blame it all on Intel, the global chip giant, which intends to build “digital homes” where all gadgets are interconnected in a seamless manner.

Here’s how it works: The PC and mobile phone are networked with the parents’ mobile phone and other handheld equipment. A call made to or received from a friend or anyone can be viewed by the parents. So teenagers had better watch out.

The refrigerator and other consumer electronic goods can be fitted with biometric scanners. Each time a child or a bibulous husband who has been asked to stay away from cold drinks and sodas opens the refrigerator and takes out a product, it is instantly relayed to the parents’ or wife’s PC or mobile.

Intel has created a $200-million Digital Home Fund and the proceeds will be offered to manufacturers of digital products that wish to work on a convergence platform.

Put simply, the project is designed to make a variety of products “talk” to each other.

The digital home project is focused on delivering an inter-operable framework by providing technical documentation, software development tools and support to manufacturers to help them develop innovative networked building blocks and devices for the home.

Intel is in talks with companies such as HCL and Wipro to manufacture these convergence products, both for the Indian and global markets.

According to Gartner, a research firm, more than 150 million devices — personal computers and consumer electronics products — will be linked in multimedia-centric home networks by the end of 2007.

“Today’s consumers are acquiring, viewing and managing an increasing variety of digital media using consumer electronics (CE), PCs and mobile devices at home,” said William M. Siu, vice-president and general manager, Desktop Platform Group, Intel Corporation.

“The digital home of tomorrow will allow them to easily share and enjoy all of their content using any device, anywhere in the home. This seamless interoperability of PCs and CE devices and content applications and services is essential to deliver this experience to consumers,” Siu said.

Intel has predicted that within the next two months, the majority of PCs will have built-in wireless capability. This will enable an entire family to enjoy digital photos, videos and music anywhere in the home.

Users can enhance and edit images and music while using the PCs to organise their digital files for easy access, any time anywhere.

The limitations of room layout, floor plan, network connection, the location of the PC itself, or small displays and speakers will no longer restrict enjoyment of digital media.

While the hardware and software is likely to be available soon, the platform to run these applications — broadband — could cause a major hurdle.

However, Intel executives were quick to point out that major telecom companies such as Reliance Infocomm, Bharti, Tata Indicom and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd have already started to offer broadband services.

“We are aware of the bandwidth problems but consumers in India are already availing the benefits of broadband,” said Amar Babu, Intel’s director, sales and marketing, for South Asia.

“With the increased demand for such products and service, the telecom operators will also respond, since this would provide them a huge volume market and revenue stream,” he added.

If the concept catches on, here’s what the future holds: the entire family can gather around their TV set and watch the latest movie that has just been released at the theatre.

And it will be legitimate and not the copyright-flouting pirate video put out by the shady cable television operator.

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