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Day 6 - IFA International

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SPECIAL FEATURE - homE nETwoRkS ThE homE nETwoRk – CE’S nEw FRonTIER wE’RE REALLy APPRoAChIng ThE EL DoRADo! IFA is an incredible platform for the launching and development of technical platforms and ideas, and a buzz over past years has been developing around “Home Networking”. The problem has stemmed from the fact that systems were difficult for most people to install and most general electronics retailers didn’t have the know-how to assist and advise clients in this respect. This is changing today largely through initiatives launched at IFA Berlin. In the following pages, IFA International brings you the latest news on the Home Networking front as well as spotlighting some excellent new products… homE nETwoRkIng (FInALLy) mADE EASy nEw gERmAn InITIATIvE FoR EDUCATIon AnD TRAInIng - A moDEL FoR oThER EU ZonES PluralMedia Home Network Service, an advanced training initiative, has been launched at IFA Berlin. The initiative aims to aid the service sector, creating a link between the manufacturers of appliances and end-users. It provides an opportunity for them to acquire the latest, application-based knowledge about convergence, multimedia and home networking. Participating companies will be able to obtain certification from the technical supervisory organisation TÜV Rheinland. PluralMedia has been developed by the InfoTip company, a joint IT service enterprise which has been created by a number of manufacturers of leading CE brands for the benefit of dealers. The PluralMedia concept is supported by the industry associations Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation und neue Medien e.V. (BITKOM), Bundesverband Technik des Einzelhandels e.V. (BVT) and Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie e.V. (ZVEI). IFA International had the chance to meet with Theo Ubbens, Managing Director of InfoTip. Firstly, could you give us an overview of your press conference at IFA? The issue comes from three directions. We have telecommunication on the one hand, we have the IT industry on the other, and then we have classical consumer electronics, and products are more and more connected to each other, but there are far too few people in the field who have the know-how to explain the possibilities of home networking to the consumer... to explain the products and the possibilities to end consumers. Therefore, the different sections of the industry have set up this project, PluralMedia, for technical training but also the training of sales people. Is this a key to the industry becoming more profitable? Right, and therefore we need new services to at least earn some money, especially on the trade side. The industry needs to add value in ways such as these to earn money. The whole PluralMedia initiative started because the market changed so much. Old TVs and the new TVs are completely different, and all the people working in the stores right now don’t know well enough how these new sets work, so first they need to understand new technical innovations or at least the technical specifications behind the new TVs. They need to understand all the possibilities that there are in terms of connecting all these devices, because they don’t even know what the possibilities are yet, otherwise they will be looking for other work very soon! And when the products get more sophisticated, featuring things like Internet connections, you need somebody to install or to configure them because the end user is normally not able to do this by himself. Telecom companies often work like this, they send the ADSL box to the consumer with a piece of software and, in principle, it works on its own, but very often it does not, then the consumer is completely frustrated. He or she spends hours on the help line… Yes absolutely. Right now in Germany, it’s mostly friends, or friends of friends who end up sorting these things out… someone who is quite “techie” and knows how these things work. But everything is on a private basis, there is nobody who you can go to in a store, and for people who don’t know anyone in their area, there is no one you can go to and say please come to my house and make sure that my system works. What is the rollout time for your new training initiative? We start right now. We have launched it officially here at IFA, and the first training lessons start at the end of September. It’s a European problem, but you’re starting your initiative in Germany… leading the way? Yes, it’s the same problem everywhere, but the education is a bit different, if you go to a German market or Italian or Spanish market, because the service business itself is a bit different in these countries. It depends also within the country which store you go to… But the huge trade organisations are asking already for that. There are many European-wide organisations that are already asking for it. I’m convinced that the second step will be to make a European roll out. 10 IFA International • Wednesday, 9 th September 2009

SPECIAL FEATURE - homE nETwoRkS mAIn ISSUES In homE nETwoRk InSTALLATIon PLURALmEdIA CREATES bEnEFIT FoR boTh SIdES – RETAIL And CUSTomER What are the main problems encountered by consumers when they want to create a home network? The first challenge is defining the customer’s needs (What do I want?) and the equipment, which will meet his demands. The next step is interoperability. How do I make sure that the components like TV, Set-Top- Box, Personal Computer etc. work seamlessly? Then of course, there’s the challenge of usability: am I able to programme the network’s functionalities, am I able to set it up, am I able to really use all its functionalities in the sense of creating an added value? And last but not least is the price. There still is a kind of prejudice that home networks are way too expensive for the average customer. PluralMedia, the new concept for advanced learning launched here at IFA, offers all those working in the consumer products and ITC environment the possibility to become a certified home installer, the PluralMedia Specialist. This is definitely a benefit for both sides, retail and customer. Now you can address an expert who will assist you from the first idea over planning up to installation and service. Do you think wireless HD will take off quickly? All wireless technologies will grow faster than cabled. Many TV-sets are already equipped with wireless devices to access the Internet. Between April and July 2009 around 100,000 flat TVs with Internet connectivity have been sold only in Germany. Wireless HD will be well accepted because wireless technologies are part of our lives and they are convenient. What about cabling? Are there special considerations to take into account? Power line and electrical installation are definitely carriers for home networks. But here we are speaking of home networks beyond entertainment and mere communication. It’s home network to its fullest extent, home automation, in fact the so-called smart or intelligent house: the air conditioning stops when you open a window, the shutters close when its getting dark or the sun is too bright, display next to the door informs you about windows or doors left open or technical equipment still using power before you’re leaving. You may check your power consumption on the TV screen or, via wireless connection on your smartphone or a handheld display. All this is possible today. The technology is available. And for this sort of home network standard-based, futureproof electrical installation of houses is crucial. The standard KNX is the answer Though, for the last few meters from the power line or cable to the device and between devices, as well as for multi-room solutions of entertainment products wireless will be the choice. This also counts for e.g. networked smoke detectors. The ZVEI-Initiative Intelligent Living ( is promoting existing products, tools and technologies for the connected or intelligent home and is working to reduce the existing prejudices by providing broad information about the possibilities already existing today. When we focus on CE products, wireless is the key to the success of home entertainment networks – no cables, easy to install and direct link to the Internet. And on the other hand, the TV will (as we believe) be the centre for every home network, where all information can be reviewed. New TVs are coming on the scene with much better connectivity. How is this going to change the scene? New TVs with enhanced connectivity are enabler of the connected home. They will speed up the process. What will the home network of 2020 look like? Looking at IT and CE products connectivity has become reality. Home automation has, to some extent, already reached visibility beyond ‘high end family ho uses’. There are many projects in Germany where a certain set of automation is standard when building new flats. In Asia, for example, connectivity and automation are already a crucial factor in the real estate business. Health care, security and energy management will become even more important in the future. Especially the so-called ‘Ambient Assisted Living’ will play a role in designing the home of the future or better its functionalities. Imagine: You arrive at your house and park the car in the garage where its battery is automatically charged. The door opens so you don’t have to put down your shopping bags and search for the key. The recipe for your dinner is already shown on the display next to the stove. Your favourite music is played in every room you enter and the lights turn on and off as well. You may watch the news the moment you want to watch theme, on any display in the house. Convenient, easy to use, supportive – these are the keys for future home networks. What are the greatest enabling factors today in terms of technology relating to home networks? Today, nearly every product – whether it be consumer electronics, home appliances or IT and telecommunication devices – is based on microcomputers and does have smart interfaces. Plug and play networks, WLAN and Bluetooth will become standards when it comes to designing home networks, because they allow easy connectivity. Example of Home Server – by Loewe IFA International • Wednesday, 9 th September 2009 11

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