Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Motorola Outlines Home Digital Media Strategy

At the Cable-Tec Expo, Motorola outlined a unified hardware and software strategy that will enable digital cable customers to move and share digital media throughout their homes.

Motorola's software strategy for whole-home media takes advantage of the Ucentric Digital Home Platform, a software suite that enables digital media to be shared by any connected device in the home. Because of the growing momentum for the open cable applications platform (OCAP), Motorola plans to offer extensions for OCAP that will enable operators to tap into the robust networking capabilities of the Motorola Ucentric platform by Summer 2006. This will enable cable operators to take advantage of features such as the sharing of tuners and storage across the network from within their own custom OCAP applications.

Motorola's hardware strategy begins with the introduction of the DCT3412, an all-digital, dual-tuner, high-definition digital video recorder. This model, along with its sister set-top (the widely deployed Motorola DCT6412, which also includes analog recording), would serve as the centerpiece of a whole-home media network. The set-top will be offered with various hard drive sizes (120GB, 160GB, 320GB), enabling to serve hours of digital recordings, along with music, pictures, etc. to any room in the home.

Motorola also plans to offer other all-digital set-tops designed for secondary rooms in the home. These products will support OCAP and the Ucentric Digital software, and include built-in adapters that will enable the creation of a whole-home network. The goal is to make it as easy as connecting a coaxial cable to the set-top.

The products will include a "proxied" DOCSIS set-top gateway (DSG) feature that can simplify the operator's ability to administer multiple set-tops in the home. With this functionality, operators can independently access each set-top attached to the home media network through a single cable modem.

  • In January 2005, Motorola acquired privately-held Ucentric Systems, a provider of media networking software for the connected home. Financial terms were not disclosed. The Ucentric software solution provides access to stored digital entertainment -- such as high-definition video on a DVR, music on a computer hard drive, or pictures on a laptop -- from any connected device in the home. The software is designed to operate with electronic program guides from multiple vendors, and service providers can customize the interface with applications that personalize the subscriber experience. Ucentric had recently announced a licensing agreement with DIRECTV to deploy its Home Media Center software platform.

  • The OCAP specification, which was developed under the OpenCable project led by CableLabs, allows retail consumer electronics devices to run any compliant application or service. With OCAP middleware, consumer electronics manufacturers can build digital cable products capable of running interactive program guides and premium services including on-demand television. CableLabs provides certification testing of OpenCable host devices, including host devices implementing the OCAP specification, for delivery and use in the North American cable market.

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