BARCELONA, Spain Eager to make its high-speed digital interface the backbone of tomorrow's home networks, the 1394 Trade Association announced several initiatives at a meeting here this week to hasten the interface's adoption and settle its longstanding name-recognition problems.
The association signed a no-fee license agreement with Apple Computer Inc. to adopt the FireWire name, logo and symbol as a brand name for the IEEE 1394 connection standard, which has been given different marketing names by its roughly 170 member companies. The association also launched a working group focused on the home network, and unveiled plans to become a standards organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) by the end of 2003.
James Snider, executive director at the IEEE 1394 Trade Association, told EE Times, "We are transforming ourselves from being a marketing body of the standard to 'a market maker' of the standard, through creating new applications ourselves." Specifically, "We've decided to quit depending on other companies to drive 1394," Snider said.
Rather than waiting for the sometimes hesitant moves of corporations, Snider said the IEEE 1394 Trade Association hopes to pull together new home network designs that take a full advantage of the technology's capabilities. "Our first milestone of the network working group, for instance, will be that we can start giving some guidance to companies interested in building a home network," he said.
While multiple wired and wireless schemes are vying to become the technology of choice for home networking, the association's tasks include "reviewing the use of Internet Protocols over 1394, and investigating how best to co-exist with other standards such as Ethernet," said Michael Teener, plumbing architect at Apple Computer. An originator of FireWire while at Apple in the late 1980s, Teener is chairman of the trade association's new network working group.
The1394 Trade Association also hopes to fix the standard's name-recognition problems. Apple has called it IEEE 1394 FireWire, while Sony Corp. and Philips Electronics have promoted it as i-Link. Under its agreement with Apple, the Trade Association received the right to sublicense the FireWire trademarks for use on products, packaging and promotion of the standard. "We decided [to] start calling ourselves what we think we are," said Snider.
The association's plans to become an ANSI accredited organization may surprise some, Snider said. "A lot of people already think that we are a standards organization." In fact, the Trade Association write specs but sends them to the IEEE, which then recognizes them as IEEE standards. That procedure will not change even after the association becomes an ANSI accredited standards body, Snider said. "But we think it will give this group of individual companies a little more teeth," he said.