Tech Players Back HANA Hi-Def Alliance

High definition is getting some high profile attention. Charter Communications, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, NBC Universal, Samsung and Sun Microsystems are slated to announce they are uniting to form the High Definition Audio Video Network Alliance (HANA) at a press event in New York.

HANA’s stated aim is to create a standards-based design guideline for secure High Definition AV networks that will help advance commercial deployment of products and services and enhance the consumer HD entertainment experience.

Heemin Kwon, HANA president, said HANA brings together content providers, consumer electronics, service providers and IT with the sole purpose of addressing HD needs such as quality of service, ease of use and content protection.

Consumer interest in and purchases of HD television sets are growing. “Five years ago no one would think anyone would pay close to price of car for it,” said Eric Kim, chief marketing officer at Intel during an event Tuesday promoting the chip makers’ consumer Viiv PC brand. Viiv PCs will work with HD television sets.

HANA plans to establish industry design guidelines that utilize current technology and specifications. If you think Tivo is cool, HANA is aiming for more, allowing consumers to view, pause, record five or more HD channels simultaneously, and view, pause and record HD from anywhere in the home with just one set top box.

Other design goals include the ability to share personal content from PCs to AV devices securely; control all AV devices and access content with just a single remote per room; and add any device to the home network with just one cable.

Several semiconductor and technology firms, ARM, Freescale Semiconductor and Pulse~Link have also joined HANA as contributing members. HANA says it’s also in discussion with other standards bodies about how they might work together including the Consumer Electronics Association, CableLabs, the Motion Picture Association of America the UWB Forum and the 1394 Trade Association.

Kwon said by utilizing the 1394 standard digital interface, HANA would eliminate the confusing tangle of cables used to connect TVs with Home Theaters, DVD players and other consumer electronics products. This means one remote to control them all.

HANA said it plans to work with several groups regarding digital rights management technologies during the first half of 2006 in order to give consumers added flexibility in using content across the entire network, including managing copies across multiple devices such as portable video players.

HANA compliant products will include HDTVs, next generation DVD players, personal video recorders, set top cable boxes and home theaters. The first commercial products are expected to be available in the second half of 2006. The Alliance plans to facilitate compatibility among various manufacturers’ products through compliance testing and developers’ conferences.

Looking ahead, HANA plans to address other issues including: advanced video compression technologies, interactive content, enhanced security, and wireless extensions.

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