(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Standards for Home Appliance Network to be Set in 1999
November 10, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Japan's Echonet Consortium, an industry
association for companies involved in home networks, said it will open
the ECHONET standards for home appliance control through power lines
or wireless control.
|The main target of the standards is power control of home appliances.
The ECHONET standards allow a user to control power supply to household
electric appliances from a remote location outside of the home.
"The standards will create a market worth around 4 trillion yen (US$33.88
billion) if such products are used by all households in Japan about
ten years after the standards are set," said Seiichirou Matsumoto, chairman
of the Echonet Consortium steering committee.
The steering committee consists of four managing companies, Toshiba Corp.,
Hitachi Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi
Electric Corp., as well as two other members, Sharp Corp. and Tokyo
Electric Power Co. A total of 64 enterprises are members of the consortium.
Many home network standards are utilized in Japan, the United States
and Europe, and various aspects of those standards overlap concerning
usage and specifications.
ECHONET covers a wide range of areas, including transmission systems
to application programming interfaces (APIs).
For this reason, conflicts will likely arise among standards such as
HAPI (PC API advocated by Royal Philips Electronics N.V. of the Netherlands
and Microsoft Corp.), HAVi, (home network specifications for AV equipment
promoted by eight companies in Japan, the United States and Europe)
and Jini (a distributed processing environment based on Java and advanced
by Sun Microsystems Inc.).
Echonet has argued that those standards should be separated and adopted.
"ECHONET is assumed to apply to the Japanese market, while HAPI targets
the U.S. market. Such concentration is reasonable due to different regulations
in each country concerning power lines and wireless means as a transmission
path," according to Echonet.
Hisashi Kodama, chairman of the technical committee, said: "HAVi aims
mainly at controlling AV equipment, and provides a different application
field than that of ECHONET, which focuses on home appliances. As for
Jini, there is no competition between the standard and ECHONET, since
Java is not taken into consideration in our standard."
The consortium will negotiate with its counterpart in Europe, the European
Home System Association (EHSA), on the possible unification of API.
A draft of the standards is scheduled to be released at the end of March
1999, and the contents will be made available to the member enterprises.
As for transmission paths, the following two types of transmission system
are under study: power lines and low-powered wireless (400 MHz). The
standards also will adopt some existing standards such as LON of U.S.
Echelon Corp., Homebus and IrDA Control.
Object-oriented technologies are due to be applied to device drivers
and middleware in ECHONET. Middleware will be designed to work with
8-bit microprocessors, according to the consortium.
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