Home > 3D TVs, consumer electronics, DLNA, HDMI, HDMI 1.4, Internet radios, Internet TVs, Philips, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, WHDI > Philips focuses on how interoperability, content sharing drive CE devices!

Philips focuses on how interoperability, content sharing drive CE devices!

August 10, 2010

Nataraj Kumar of Philips.

Nataraj Kumar, PIC.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interacting with Nataraj Kumar, director, Consumer Lifestyle, Philips Innovation Campus (PIC), where we discussed things such as Philips technology in interoperability, and the role of this technology in the Philips development ecosystem.

Content sharing platform and consumer behaviour are two key areas of focus for the Dutch electronics giant, Philips. As you know, connectivity and interoperability, as well as certification, play key roles in the overall make up of CE devices as well. To ensure that all devices work smoothly, consumer electronics manufacturers have to be very careful regarding testing and interoperability issues.

Last month, Philips had organized the Philips Connectivity Plugfest-02 at the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore, India. It attracted 31 companies who showcased 90 devices focusing on connectivity technologies — HDMI, USB, Bluetooth and DLNA.

As you can see, the focus was on content sharing over multiple devices — all of whom need to operate and function in unison — and that’s where the interoperability factor comes in!

In fact, more than 70 percent of the companies participating in the Plugfest-02 focused on HDMI. According to Nataraj Kumar, there were 42 products related to HDMI, while there were 23 products focused on USB. Bluetooth had 17 products and there were four related to DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance).

In contrast, the Philips Connectivity Plugfest-01, held in June 2009 at the same venue, had attracted 15 companies who showcased 40 devices focusing on technologies such as Bluetooth, HDMI and DLNA!

Strong current focus on HDMI

Obviously, high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) has been gaining in importance. Now, with HDMI 1.4 doing the rounds, the interest naturally has to be on the higher side. HDMI 1.4a, released on March 4, 2010, and adds two additional mandatory 3D formats for broadcast content, which was deferred with HDMI 1.4 in order to see the direction of the 3D broadcast market. It has also defined the mandatory 3D formats for broadcast, game, and movie content, respectively.

As per Nataraj Kumar, HDMI 1.4 supports the audio return channel, provides 3D support, as well as an HDMI Ethernet channel.

Elaborating on the Plugfest-02, he said that there were a range of CE devices, such as TV sets, graphic cards, active HDMI cables, control boxes, products that get into DVD players, etc.

He said: “We made a matrix of every company, and presented each company 45 minutes. Within that period, each company had to pick up its product — or source — and carry it to a synchronization device, which receives and displays data. Then they evaluated a variety of test cases that were already pre-defined by Philips.”

Most of the participating companies at Plugfest-02 were able to test successfully for interoperability and perhaps, also identify problems that could be later resolved.

Just how well is Philips geared up for HDMI is visible from its well equipped Interoperability and Certification Center (ICC) lab (sorry folks, no pictures).

The Philips’ ICC lab has the facility to handle HDMI 1.4 compliance testing. It also offers HDMI 1,4 CEC compliance testing, HDMI HDCP compliance testing, and HDMI and HDMI CEC interoperability testing.

The ICC lab offers interoperability testing with CE devices for Bluetooth, as well as Bluetooth profile testing. For USB, it offers USB interoperability testing, while for DLNA, it offers DLNA interoperability testing for 1.0 and 1.5, respectively. The lab offers RF4CE (radio frequency for consumer electronics) interoperability testing as well.

It must be mentioned here that the Bangalore ICC lab is a unique center within Philips. It ensures the certification and interoperability of Philips’ products before their commercial launch. This center is already involved in the design and development of several products.

Now, I couldn’t find any company showcasing WHDI (wireless home digital interface) capabilities. Perhaps, the technology is still very new! And what about Philips’ interest in this technology?

On inquiring, Nataraj Kumar said that Philips is exploring opportunities as to what the WHDI standard can do for home entertainment. Should Philips participate in this specification, it would possibly look into WHDI’s standardization process as well.

Internet and 3D TVs

Internet TVs are currently top of the charts. So, what’s Philips doing in this area? According to Nataraj Kumar, the company had earlier launched three to four models — the Streamium range — featuring Internet radios. Interesting!

The last time I looked at and used an Internet radio was sometime during in the middle of 2006, while visiting a supplier located somewhere near Diamond Hill in Hong Kong. At that point in time, Internet radios were supposed to be the next big thing. Well, let’s see what happens from here on!

Coming back to Philips’ Web or Internet TVs, the company had launched a TV in Europe using video content playback, featuring YouTube, Interent portals, etc., called Net TV. All of the services for the Net TV are tested for compliance at Philips’ Bangalore lab.

3D TV is another hot area today wtihin consumer electronics, although I am not quite sure of its current success rate. Perhaps, it is too early! As per Nataraj Kumar, HDMI also supports a lot of verification work for 3D TVs. Philips’ ICC lab performs 3D TV testing as well.

Finally, it is said that 3G has the potential to become big in India. When? Let me leave you with an anecdote!

In the middle of 1998, Ericsson had invited me to its facility in Kista, a district of Stockholm municipality in Sweden. The sessions were largely on W-CDMA. In fact, I sat inside a moving van testing Internet over W-CDMA! This was 12 years ago! Today, it is Q3 2010. Where is 3G in India?

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  1. Nataraj Kumar
    August 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Dear Pradeep

    Thanks for the nice report based on your visit. Indeed it was a pleasure knowing you in person, specifically your wide network and affiliation towards technology.

    Looking forward to meet you sometime in near future.

    S. Nataraj Kumar

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