Moving video data between different devices falls to networking companies like Netgear and Cisco. At CES, Netgear showed off a range of Wi-Fi routers designed to deliver multiple streams of high-definition video to devices scattered throughout a house. These employ beamforming techniques—sending a directional signal rather than an omnidirectional one—to improve signal strength, so that someone curled up in an upstairs bedroom with an iPad can still get jitter-free video. Meanwhile, declaring that “video is the new voice” and estimating that 90 percent of all network traffic will be video by 2014, Cisco presented a long-term vision, which involves developing an architecture called Videoscape. It intends to build numerous software and hardware products over the new few years with the help of partners such as ISPs and content providers. The idea is that a cloud-based software system will track what a user is doing on any of several devices. If the user is watching a movie on a television and goes for a walk halfway through, he should be able to instantly resume watching it on a smart phone from the point where it was paused.
The drive for on-demand video is even affecting computing at the hardware level, with Intel announcing at CES that the latest generation of its processors will have built-in support for handling video, converting video between different formats for different devices, and enforcing movie studios’ digital-rights-protection policies.
On-demand video isn’t just about consuming output from movie studios, though. Television-based video conferencing could be a popular feature of Internet-enabled TVs, as could apps for social networks like Facebook that let users share home movies and other clips. Both Sony and Panasonic have also brought out consumer 3-D camcorders, partly in the hope that, in the absence of lots of compelling professional 3-D movies, people might be motivated to buy 3-D-enabled televisions to watch home movies featuring 3-D versions of friends and family.