Companies that are set to launch digital media adapters next year include Dell Computer, Legend Group, Mitac International and Gateway. The adapters will use Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) technology to connect PCs with consumer-electronic devices, said Louis Burns, vice-president and co-general manager of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group, at the Intel Developer Forum in California.
"Those platforms will come out in a variety of flavours," Burns said. Low-end models will connect over wired Ethernet networks while more sophisticated models will incorporate wireless networking technologies, such as 802.11b.
The digital media adapter, which is based on a reference design developed by Intel, is part of a wider initiative to connect the PC with other electronic devices inside the home. Part of that effort includes working with Sony and Microsoft to develop standards.
"None of this can happen with a single company driving its own proprietary view of how it will work," Burns said.
Even though the first generation of digital media adapters will hit the market next year, there is still a lot of work to be done. While standards exist for device discovery and control (UPnP), network protocols such as IP and the physical network (Ethernet over wired or wireless networks), work still needs to be done in areas such as media formats and data exchange, digital rights management, and applications and services, Burns said.
"Once these standards are established, the ability for this vision [of connecting the PC with other devices in the home] to become true is very, very real," he said.