It sounds simple enough. Display your digital photos on the TV, or play songs stored on your PC through your stereo. Don’t bother trying, though, because the typical computers, DVD and MP3 players, cameras, and televisions that pervade millions of homes can’t all communicate with one another. After years of industry promises, however, that could be about to change. The first products that will allow for easy networking of a wide range of gadgets could arrive on store shelves as early as this holiday season.
The main roadblock was cleared this spring, when consumer electronics, chip, and computer makers agreed to a new common set of standards. Now, manufacturers are using those standards to build next-generation products that exchange songs, video, and photos with each other, via either wired or wireless local networks. While certain high-end products can already do this, “we’re trying to make it more plug-and-play for mainstream consumers,” says Bob Gregory, director of initiatives planning at Intel and a board member of an industry consortium of more than 100 companies-including Microsoft, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard-that established the new standards. At first, gadgets will exchange data via special adaptors, though manufacturers will next make devices with the networking capability built in.
“It’s a great first step” toward expanding the home network beyond just PCs, says Mike Wolf, an analyst with In-Stat/MDR, a market research firm in Scottsdale, AZ. “Eliminating the lack of interoperability is a great hurdle they’ve overcome,” he says. Within the next year or two, instead of being stuck in front of a computer looking at digital photos, you could find yourself on the living room couch with the photos on a big-screen TV.
Forget dating apps: Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love
Fed up with apps, people looking for romance are finding inspiration on Twitter, TikTok—and even email newsletters.
How AI is reinventing what computers are
Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.
These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems
They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.
We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.
Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.