Networking Your Gadgets

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.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Listen in as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.