Wireless in the Home

RCR Wireless News
BURLINGAME, Calif. — The perception of what wireless technologies can enable for other industries is years, if not decades, ahead of reality. As mobile devices have ever-so-steadily become a pocket-sized version of personal computers, they still deliver nowhere near the experience and capabilities of their heftier counterparts.

“I think we’re still early in terms of delivering a good mobile entertainment experience,” Jessica Steel, VP at Pandora, said at the Digital Living Room Summit last week.

At best, mobile entertainment has reached its teenage years — full of promise and tenacity, yet still years away from self-reliance.

The sky is literally the limit as to where mobile devices and wireless technology might fit in to a connected and untethered personal entertainment system, but few tangibles have been realized thus far.

Will cellphones simply become an alternative remote control for the living room or will they share content (purchased and free) with an ever-growing array of consumer electronics? Most in this business are clearly hoping for the latter end of the spectrum, however much stands in the way.

Intuitive search, user interfaces, licensing issues and supported media formats all need to be resolved industrywide. Such a feat will require collaboration and the blessing of Hollywood.

Show them the money

Moreover, as Jaime Fink, VP at 2 Wire Inc., pointed out: providers aren’t likely to enable and deliver an all-wireless solution to customers unless it leads to new services that they can monetize.

Intel Corp. has been studying consumers’ home entertainment likes and dislikes as it aims to bring Internet connections to all electronics in the living room.

“We think it’s absolutely critical that we understand what’s happening in the living room,” said William Leszinske, general manager of consumer electronics at Intel.

“Consumers have a very love-hate and intense relationship with their television,” he said, adding that although viewing is passive in nature, it’s much more of a social engagement than it might seem.

“While the TV experience is very entrenched we don’t think it’s going to change overnight,” Leszinske said in his keynote.

Truly, Madly, Deeply

For now the company is focusing on learning what consumers want from a deeper experience in the living room.

“When you talk about the Internet, the relationship people have with their PCs is very, very different from their television,” he said. “I don’t think people want a browsing experience.”

Leszinske believes a user interface will evolve when broadband, broadcast and on-demand content are forged together. And whoever develops a system that strikes a balance between an online- and TV-like experience will win the day, he said.

“You want to create an experience on the mobile device that is relevant to the living room,” Hillcrest Labs CEO Dan Simpkins said. “You really have to use the right tool for the job.”

Search is one function that practically every panelist throughout the conference agreed would be important to the viability of ecosystems to come.

Steven King, VP of marketing at Hitachi America Ltd., demonstrated the capabilities of Entier, an embedded database the company build to serve all platforms. The textual-based search application boasts a significant reduction in code and the use of meta data and geospacial tags, which enables users to pull up a contact based on where he or she was when they entered that new information in the device, for example. “Search the way you think,” the company likes to say of the embedded database.

Entier handles multiple data types and formats with response times in the tens of milliseconds.

King said handset vendors have been the quickest to catch up with their technology as they and wireless carriers have warmed to the idea of incorporating third-party database search solutions.

“We are working with a mobile handset vendor that is implementing those kinds of searches today,” he said.