EXCLUSIVE: Several European vendors have developed a new software platform designed to “simplify and accelerate the adoption of residential services and home automation. Among the Companies looking at adoption of the technology is Telstra.
Called Soft at Home the new platform has been developed outside of the US led DLNA with Thompson Orange and Sagem three Companies that already operate in Australia pushing the Soft Home platform.
At the 2008 CES Expo in the USA several senior Telstra executives met with both Sagem and Thompson to discuss home gateways and the new Soft At Home platform.
Marketing brochures for the new home automation platform claim that the aim of Soft At Home is to simplify and drive development of the digital home however many organisations are already questioning the services that the new platform can deliver.
A recent press release said, “The Soft At Home structure is aimed at creating a standard for the interconnection of equipment within the multimedia ecosystem”. Linux based the initial members are also seeking addition members to join the consortium.
Despite a lot of hype there is little detail on the software platform however ChannelNews has been able to ascertain that a key component of the offering is a set top box that delivers a menu to a screen while also allowing for the management of entertainment and home office devices as well as devices such as lighting and distributed audio.
We have also been told that the next generation of residential gateways and TV decoders will be used equipped with the Soft at Home software”.
Ovum Research said recently in a report to subscribers” Soft at Home is a big deal for all three players, which are already implementing the software in their products and services. We think it’s particularly significant that Orange, with a footprint of over 6 million Liveboxes in a number of different markets, is already deploying this software in its new generation kit. We will be interested to see to what extent other operators and vendors, particularly consumer electronics vendors like Sony and Microsoft, decide to participate in the development and adoption of a platform squarely focused on the home network, the gateway to the digital home”.
To fulfil its ‘digital home’ promise, which lies at the core of its consumer strategy, Orange has worked hard to implement what it considers to be a holistic approach to the digital home. This ranges from development of a standard Livebox (the home gateway) that can be used in most of its markets as the central home hub, through to a thorough and aggressive multi-platform content strategy with greater emphasis on mobile.
Ovum went on to say “Orange is far from alone in such ambition as the fight for the digital home heats up. Service providers, particularly large ones, are seeking to become the main exclusive supplier for a consumer’s communication and media needs. But the flipside of multi-service ambitions is that in offering consumers everything from TV to convergent services it becomes difficult for many big service providers to tread softly into the home. By that we mean positioning themselves in a way which enables consumers to pick and choose who they invite into their digital ecosystem and what permissions those people (vendors and service operators) have.
In order to manage the home network, charge for services (think of a network-based PVR service, for example) and deliver software upgrades, many service providers are seeking more, not less, control.Shared and more open R&D and greater ‘collaboration’ is all well and good, but in this single service provider vision there is only one home network and whoever has control holds the key.
The DLNA has done a good job of driving through interoperability between different devices from different vendors within the home, but its main aim has been to enable different devices from different vendors to share content. It is not explicitly focusing on the actual gateway into the home. The creation of Soft at Home should trigger questions over how the development and ownership of what many service providers want to be the linchpin of the digital home should evolve.
Opinions and ideas of what simplicity means can vary substantially, from how much hand-holding and control customers want through to more technical decisions on standards, software and hardware. This means vision, clarity and details about the aims and achievements of alliances and how they interplay and work (or do not work) together are highly important”.
For further information on Soft At Home go to the Soft At Home Web Site