New standard for home entertainment networks

A new standard to simplify moving video from one device to another and around the home was announced on Thursday, with support from cable operators and a Hollywood studio.

Silicon Image, the Silicon Valley company behind the HDMI standard that reduces audio and video cabling to a single wire, announced LiquidHD at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

It said the new technology would quickly and easily connect TVs, set-top boxes, PCs and portable devices in a seamless network. Consumers would be able to enjoy digital content from any source device on any LiquidHD-enabled display in their homes.

Moving video around the growing number of CE devices in the home has proved problematic. Different cabling and internet-protocol technologies are available, but consumers need high levels of expertise to link everything together and not all devices and networks are compatible.

LiquidHD can use coaxial cable, ethernet, wi-fi or powerlines in the home to connect devices, automatically discovering them and removing the need for the consumer to set up the network.

A set-top box for example, with several tuners delivering channels and recording programs for a living room TV, could also provide the same service to other TVs around the house.

Silicon Image has been privately working on the technology for nearly five years and has won the approval of the Fox Hollywood studio for the level of content security it has built in. Cable operators Comcast and Liberty Global have also endorsed the technology.

It still faces the difficult task of persuading consumer electronics companies generally to adopt LiquidHD, but aims to follow the same route of establishing an industry consortium that led to the widespread take-up of HDMI.

In a further advance, the International Telecommunication Union last month announced the first global standard for an in-home, high-speed network capable of delivering room-to-room HDTV. promises high-quality multimedia over power, coaxial, phone and other home network wiring, delivered three times faster than existing wired technologies.

”What is trying to do is unify the different solutions in a single physical layer,” says Rob Tobias, director of product marketing at Silicon Image.

”What LiquidHD does is add the final piece of the puzzle, where you need the protocols to enable all these devices to talk to one another.”

The company is working with consumer electronics partners this year to incorporate its technology and expects them to make their first product announcements at CES in 2010.

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