SOMERS, N.Y. -- IBM Corp. and National Semiconductor Corp. today announced development of a new platform and technology for home gateways that connect household appliances, lights, security systems, air conditioners, entertainment units, and other consumer products to the Internet for remote access and management.
The jointly-developed technology combines National Semiconductor's Internet appliance development platform--including the company's Geode microprocessor--and IBM's WebSphere embedded software. The two companies said the technology will offer a flexible and modular hardware/software solution that can target multiple products in a single development environment. The joint platform will be generally available in August.
"The Internet is being extended to everyday household appliances that we don't normally associate with computing," said Michel Mayer, general manager of pervasive computing at IBM. "The technology to enable this is available today, but requires companies to come together to build an end-to-end solution. Our relationship with National Semiconductor is one of the first steps in making this happen."
IBM and National Semiconductor said system manufacturers will be able to reduce development time for embedded Internet gateways and applications while adhering to open industry standards, based on the technology from the two companies.
According to a forecast from Allied Business Intelligence, the home gateway market is expected to grow from $267 million in 2000 to $7.1 million in 2006 as a result of the raid growth in broadband Internet access throughout the home worldwide. But IBM and National believe system and applications designers will find it difficult to develop products since no one set of features addresses all the demands of consumers. Consequentially, IBM and National said they are creating a single development platform for complete home gateway development.
In addition to announcing the platform partnership, IBM and National today said they have signed on their first major customers for the home gateway technology--Shanghai General Electronics Group, which they said was China's largest white goods manufacturer, and C.P. Technology, a Taiwan-based company specializing in home technology. Shanghai General Electronics plans to use the joint technology to develop applications that can remotely monitor and control Web-enabled appliances. C.P. Technology said it is using the joint technology to produce a new home gateway, called the Power IA Smarthome UB2100.
"The residential gateway forms the heart of the home network", said Michael Polacek, vice president of the Information Appliance Division at National Semiconductor in Santa Clara, Calif. "It manages the communication to the Internet and within the home network. It is the enabling technology that makes the home of the future possible." Polacek predicted that the new joint platform will enable customer to create flexible and cost effective residential gateway solutions.