Marketeers no longer have to conduct marketing studies to prove that consumers have an insatiable appetite for smart devices, along with the world of instantaneous connectivity they depend upon. With the "smart revolution" reaching into every aspect of modern life, enabling technologies are quickly moving the concept of the connected home out of the realm of fantasy into a bold new reality.
We have all witnessed the dramatic shifts in media delivery and viewing patterns that have created new demands for streaming over-the-top (OTT) and live TV content on any screen in the home. Ingenious entrepreneurs, start-ups and manufacturers are finding new ways to infuse intelligence into home appliances, environmental controls and security systems. Let's take a look at the advancements in networking technologies that developers are leveraging in their quest to provide seamless connectivity throughout the most intimate environment of them all—the home.
One of the key technologies behind today's multi-screen, multimedia phenomenon is MoCA® (Multimedia over Coax Alliance)—the universal standard for home entertainment networking. The delivery of a true TV, video and Internet everywhere experience depends upon MoCA 2.0 supported chips that double available bandwidth as compared to previous standards, enhancing both video quality and distribution.
Advanced power management technologies provide energy-efficient, high-speed networking with higher levels of security for enhanced content protection. Best of all, MoCA 2.0 is easy to install and use because it operates seamlessly over existing in-home coaxial cabling. Easily integrated into next-generation set-top boxes and IP gateway systems, MoCA 2.0 delivers multiple streams of high-definition video with minimal interference or crosstalk for a user experience of unparalleled quality.
The avalanche of streaming video and OTT content has created an explosive demand for bandwidth, a dilemma resolved by High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC/H.265. HEVC allows HD content to be streamed at about half the bit rate of the previous generation H.264 standard while still maintaining the same quality. This allows operators to stream twice as many channels as before.
Ultra High Definition (HD) displays four times the resolution of an HD screen. By using HEVC, Ultra HD streams can be cut in half, requiring just twice the bandwidth of today’s HD streams. Today, HEVC is making it possible for consumers to watch live and streaming OTT content and enjoy more HD channels. As the once prohibitively high prices of these next-generation televisions continue to fall, content providers are making plans to bring dazzling new Ultra HD content using HEVC into living rooms across the globe.
5G WiFi (802.11ac)
Based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard, 5G WiFi-enabled devices are playing a key role in the connected home. With the average household containing an increasing number of mobile devices, one person might be streaming from the Internet while two others are streaming content from one device to another. Gaming consoles and set-top boxes add additional network strain to the home network.
5G WiFi dramatically increases bandwidth and data transfer reliability, delivering the robust wireless connectivity needed to concurrently stream content to multiple devices. Up to three times faster and six times more power efficient than its 802.11n predecessor, 5G Wi-Fi provides eight times the capacity and broader coverage. Regardless of where the router is located in the house, 5G WiFi improves real-world performance using beamforming techniques to help steer signals to multiple devices so there are fewer dead spots. Consumers can expect a flood of innovative 5G Wi-Fi enabled routers, gadgets and smart products in 2014 and beyond.
Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA®) strives to provide more convenience, choices and enjoyment of digital content through DLNA Certified® devices. DLNA CVP-2 allows home users to stream their favorite television shows directly to a variety of devices including digital televisions, tablets, mobile phones, Blu-ray disc players and video game consoles directly from their traditional service provider. Working with cable, satellite and IPTV services providers, DLNA provides link protection to seamlessly protect the rights of content creators.
With DLNA ensuring secure and seamless connectivity, broadcast operators can be less concerned about the risk of content theft as consumers share content on multiple devices. The upside for consumers is the ability to access and enjoy digital media anywhere in the house. It makes no difference if content is played back on a television, tablet, laptop or smartphone; CVP-2 enables the streaming of television programs and movies to multiple CVP-2 Certified products. With CVP-2, a single set-top box or gateway can receive and deliver content throughout the home.
Where there is no coax (MoCA) or sufficient Wi-Fi coverage in a room, consumers have another easy solution to plug in and connect without rewiring or adding clunky boxes and cables. Through the HomePlug Alliance, industry leaders developed a standard for cost-effective, interoperable powerline networks and products. The result is a rapidly growing array of HomePlug Certified products that leverage existing power lines as the pathway for sending and receiving high-speed data.
The HomePlug experience begins with a simple adapter that plugs into an existing electrical outlet and connects to a modem or router. These adapters turn existing electrical outlets into hard-wired Internet ports, creating a bridge between networking technologies such as Wi-Fi or Ethernet and the home power lines. HomePlug integration into consumer devices such as TVs and even air conditioners are also on the rise. HomePlug products are ideal for sharing a broadband connection, streaming audio and multi-player gaming. Should a weak wireless signal make it difficult to access the Internet on a TV or a computer at a distance from the router or modem, consumers can simply plug a second adapter into a closer outlet.
Here and Now
Yesterday's dream of a "connected home" may have been one of ground-up construction and futuristic gadgets, but a different reality is unfolding. Consumers are already buying a myriad of smart products and clamoring for sync and stream content delivery in their homes—right here, right now. The reality of the connected home is one where next-generation networking technologies will continue to enable simple, secure, robust connectivity for the myriad of smart devices and products in the home environment.