Most cost-conscious consumers won’t plunge into automated climate control anytime soon. For now, the most popular application will be swapping entertainment content among rooms. Determined to hold costs down in this and other areas, consumer electronics companies recently announced they will collaborate on creating devices using the free Linux operating system. That’s a challenge to Microsoft. But the software giant still aims to make its Windows Media 9 software the dominant scheme for protecting audio and video against piracy. Other potential players in that area are RealNetworks and Apple. Even as the jockeying continues, though, Matsushita Executive Vice-President Yukio Shohtoku says, digital homes “will happen.”
As the myriad devices in the digital home evolve and acquire new capabilities, each must maintain its links to all the others under the umbrella of Internet standards. Richard Wollack understands the nature of these changes. In the 16 months since he has moved into his condo, computers have nearly doubled their processing power, and Wi-Fi has taken off. Now, he’s fine-tuning plans for a 5,400-sq.-ft. second home inSt. Helena,Calif.ambient heating will be built into the floors. Wi-Fi will be everywhere. And PCs in the two houses will be networked, allowing him to share music between them, as well as remotely manage fire, alarm, and air conditioning systems. Again, his dreams far exceed the means of most householders. But even with more modest budgets, there are plenty of options available to fill the bill.
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