Digital lifestyle, the latest buzz word

SINGAPORE: There's a rather feel-good atmosphere here at Broadcast Asia 2006. The rain gods have stopped their onslaught on Singapore, leaving a slight chill in the air. Though the conference is nearing its fag end, professionals from across the world continue their discussions while sipping endless cups of black coffee with steamed momos.

Apart from the other sessions on the digital space, Day Four saw a special seminar on Digital Living 2006: Trends in digital Homes & Lifestyle.

Chalking out the company's plans to fuel the growth of digital homes across the world, a Microsoft executive said, "Microsoft's Media Center PCs (a digital lifestyle device) have been fuelling the digital lifestyle in the US. Almost every second PC in the US is a Media Center PC and we predict more than 19 million digital homes by 2008 across Europe. In effect we expect an exponential growth rate of more than 1,200 per cent."

Well, so what are digital homes? The term connotes huge plasma screens, a remote to orchestrate all the devices and automatic functioning of one's home. It is definitely this, but in the present scenario with the proliferation of technology, consumers lapping up devices and digital content, digital home lifestyle concept has also moved much further.

Today, hardware, software, content and service companies across the world are working hand-in-hand to complete this ecosystem with high-end connectivity and supporting technologies.

Shedding further light on the concept, Philips MD Emmaneul Dieppedalle said, "The concept has definitely moved away from just entertainment. It is about offering a device which can integrate and personalize all the information that is there. So, along with high-speed Net connections, exchange music, video, and other content and of course video-on-demand,

He further added, "A lot of the developments are taking place in Japan, Korea and S Asia on the consumer products side; whereas all the innovations on the PC front are happening in the US. Now, the real digital home experience phenomenon will emerge, when we try to combine the best of both the worlds."

From the seminar which also comprised of Awox, director and GM, Alexis Martial, Orca Interactive, Alon Laor, VP, Sales and Professional Services, what came across was the digital home is currently receiving a lot of impetus behind it with a lot of people pulling in the same direction.

What's the real value proposition of a digital lifestyle home? Colin Png said, "Currently there are three main hubs of connectivity - the PC, mobile and the consumer items like DVDs, MP3 players, etc. The big challenge is to interconnect all these and bring in a simplified and personalized service which can comprise Digital music, Gaming, Educational tools, Photos with slide shows, MP3 players. Live TV, video on demand record. So, here you can record your favourite TV programme and watch it whenever want. Walk from your bedroom to your living room or take that official call and you will still not miss the last bit of your favourite TV programme."

To take their content paradigm further, Microsoft has also tied up with Reuters for content. Here, consumers get very personalised content, which they can browse and choose from the news items along with videos, being delivered on broadband.

Alon Laor added, "Simply put its all about time shifting and space shifting." According to Laor, the single biggest challenge is lack of education amongst consumers and lack of connectivity between the different hardware components. Also, we are still not able to offer that one important value proposition to the consumer.

But then, as Parks Associates USA director of research John Barrett, aptly said, "Consumers too crave for hi-tech technology, but it should be no-fuss technology. Digital homes should be able to make life easier for consumers."

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