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'Uhapi?' asks new Philips Semiconductors CEO

Posted: 12 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:pc? consumer electronics?

Frans van Houten, who assumed the top post at Philips Semiconductors in November, used last week's Consumer Electronics Show to urge consumer electronics manufacturers to "adopt the Universal Home API," a Philips initiative launched last year with Samsung Electronics.

Appearing on a CES panel here, van Houten stressed that the future of home data and entertainment is not about "either PCs or consumer electronics products" but rather "connected consumers."

van Houten acknowledged that "the industry has not done a good job" of offering useful applications and services interoperable with various consumer devices.

While the PC, consumer electronics and mobile industries are reportedly making progress on interoperable "guidelines" through the Digital Living Network Alliance, Philips insists that the industry needs a stable, hardware-independent application programming interface that can provide greater interoperability among consumer electronics products, systems and software applications.

"In order to bring some end to the confusion, we need to take a much more concrete, open approach" like the Universal Home API (Uhapi), van Houten said.

When asked how Uhapi would differ from previous failed API initiatives, van Houten said, "We hope to offer a much tighter level of hardware-independent interoperability." The goal of Uhapi proponents is to establish a stable, hardware-independent API that can quickly bridge the gap between middleware and application software from independent software vendors to semiconductor system solutions from chip vendors.

Noting that Uhapi is not specifically tied to Philips' Nexperia platform, van Houten said, "There is no self-interest involved here." Industry cooperation on Uhapi should bring "much more stability," while "reducing the cost and time" necessary for developing new features and software applications for systems and SoCs, he explained.

Companies involved in the initiative include Philips, Samsung, Hewlett-Packard, the Digital TV Industry Alliance of China and Access, Japan's consumer electronics middleware developer.

The group has just published its 1.0 specification for analog and digital televisions, enabling the creation of middleware and application software on top of semiconductor-based systems for analog and digital TVs ands set tops. The group is also working on the Uhapi 1.1 spec which will include support for DVD playback, DVD recording and PVR functionality.

Atos Origin, a Philips IT support spinoff, has created a Uhapi testbed so consumer electronics companies and software developers can test how their applications work on a TV set. The Uhapi Forum last week held its own developers meetings in parallel with CES.

- Junko Yoshida

EE Times

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