Companies Unite to Make UHAPI

A plan to help network various consumer devices is getting a boost
this week thanks to a newly formed group of consumer electronics
companies and chipmakers.

The Universal Home Application Programming Interface
(UHAPI) Forum is the brainchild of the
semiconductor divisions of Philips and Samsung
Electronics. The firms partnered earlier this year to develop a link from
audio/video-oriented consumer electronics (CE) software to operating
systems, regardless of manufacturers.

Now, the two companies are joined by HP, Access and
the Digital TV Industry Alliance of China (DTVIA) to help establish the
specifications and drive adoption around the world.

The idea is to
standardize hardware-independent application programming interfaces
(APIs) for analog and digital televisions, set top boxes, DVD players,
DVD recorders, personal video recorders (PVRs), home servers and other
consumer A/V devices.

Despite the best efforts of groups like the Digital Living Network
Alliance, today’s CE devices are a quagmire of conflicting functions and
features with a trend to blur the lines among traditional device
categories. As a result, UHAPI members said there is an urgent need for
a stable, hardware-independent API to bridge the middleware and
application software from independent software vendors (ISVs) and CE
vendors with the semiconductor solutions from integrated circuit (IC)
manufacturers.

“With the formation of the UHAPI Forum, we will be able to work
cooperatively with other companies to promote an open universal
interface that will speed up introduction of new features to support a
large variety of products and services in the digital convergence,” Don
Lee, vice president of SOC R&D Center at Samsung, said in a statement.
“This forum’s importance to all involved industries is clearly
illustrated by the membership commitments made by other prominent
companies.”

The forum said it is currently working on the UHAPI 1.0 specification
for analog and digital television and plans to finalize, approve and
publish the spec in January 2005. A beta version of the UHAPI
specification is currently available to members of the Forum.

The future UHAPI 1.1 specification will include support for DVD
playback, DVD recording and PVR functionality, the group said. Other
applications and consumer functions are also being looked at.

The consortium said it is also now seeking additional members to join
its cause.

“To promote the UHAPI open standard together is very important for
structuring a healthy industry value chain and encouraging technology
innovation,” Guo Ke, chairman of DTVIA said in a statement. “We hope to
establish a series of open standards and associate technologies to
support industry development.”

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