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The March 16, 2009 Issue Provided by System Dynamics Inc.
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In This Issue


Heard on the Net

News about People and Companies Influencing The Broadband Home


People News

Mitchell Askenas has become Director of Business Development at Miranda Technologies, leading their effort to penetrate TV service providers in North and South America. ( www.miranda.com )

Mark L. Dzuban has been selected as president/CEO of Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE). Dzuban was previously at Cedar Point Communications. ( www.scte.org )

Gangesh Ganesan has been appointed CEO of Ubicom. He was formerly Ubicom's VP Worldwide Sales and Marketing, with previous experience at Marvell and Cypress Semiconductor. ( www.ubicom.com )

Vinay Gokhale has joined Entropic Communications as senior VP of marketing and business development. Vinay was previously with SiRF Technology. ( www.entropic.com )

Bill Morrow has been appointed CEO of Clearwire. His previous telecom experience includes a strong operational background at Vodafone. Former CEO Ben Wolff will stay on as co-chair of the Clearwire board. ( www.clearwire.com )

Jeff Orr has been appointed Senior Analyst, Mobile Content at ABI Research. Jeff previously had his own consulting and marketing service. ( www.abiresearch.com )

Luc Seraphin has been appointed VP, worldwide sales at Sequans Communications. Seraphin was previously with Nemerix. ( www.sequans.com )


Company News

Investments

BridgeCo, a home networking System-on-a-Chip (SoC) company, has added $6 million to its Series D round from returning backers. ( www.bridgeco.com )

Digitalsmiths, a video indexing and content management company, has received an undisclosed amount from Cisco. The deal adds onto Digitalsmiths' $12M Series B round from several months ago. ( digitalsmiths.com )

Firecomms has closed a $5M funding round that includes an investment from Swisscom, along with an investment by Alps Electric, which committed to a long-term supply contract of Firecomms high-end Fiber Optic Transceivers. [Editor's Note: See Our 2008 video interview with Firecomms] ( www.firecomms.com )

Provigent, a provider of SoC solutions for the Broadband Wireless Transmission market, closed a fifth round of financing of $10 million. ( www.provigent.com )

Tremor Media, an online video advertising network and technology provider, raised a Series C round of $18 million. ( www.tremormedia.com )

Ubicom, a maker of processors for home networking and media devices, has secured $7 million in "Series 5" financing. ( www.ubicom.com )

Wavesat has raised $14.4 million from a group of VC firms to grow the company's 4G chipset efforts. ( www.wavesat.com )

Acquisitions

Harris Stratex Networks has acquired WiMax company Telsima for $12 million in cash. ( www.harrisstratex.com ) ( www.telsima.com )

Harmonic purchased Scopus Video Networks for $51 million. ( www.harmonicinc.com ) ( www.scopus.net )

IPW Holdings, a group of senior managers of IPWireless, has bought a 75% stake in IPWireless from Nextwave for a small fraction of what Nextwave paid for the company over a year ago. ( www.ipwireless.com ) ( www.nextwave.com )

Qualcomm has acquired Digital Fountain, which provides software for optimizing media delivery over networks. Terms of the deal have not been released. ( www.qualcomm.com ) ( www.digitalfountain.com )


Other News

Guangzhou Digital Media Group has launched Zhujiang Digital, a connected TV service powered by the Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV platform. This first commercially available Mediaroom-based IPTV service in China is being delivered over a traditional cable network. ( www.gzcatv.net ) ( www.microsoft.com/mediaroom )

The HomeGrid Forum, a trade group promoting UN ITU-T G.hn standardization efforts, announced new agreements with Consumer Electronics Powerline Communication Alliance (CEPCA), the HomePNA Alliance, and Universal Powerline Association (UPA). These groups are joining with HomeGrid Forum to promote G.hn and ensure co-existence between G.hn-based products and those using other current generation powerline, phoneline, and coax networking technologies. ( www.homegridforum.org )

SES AMERICOM has announced that effective July 31, 2009, "it will cease providing its IPTV service in North America." SES had signed up approximately 70 telco customers for IP-PRIME, its end-to-end IPTV service. ( www.ses-americom.com )


Standards

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance announced that the IEEE P1901 Working Group approved proposals including key HomePlug technology as the baseline for P1901, an IEEE powerline communications standard. The proposals, which were divided into three clusters – In-Home, Access and Coexistence, all achieved more than 75 percent affirmative votes. ( www.homeplug.org ) ( grouper.ieee.org/groups/1901 )

The ITU-T has approved ITU-T G.9960 PHY, the physical layer standard for G.Hn which covers home area networking over coax, phone and power lines at speeds of 50-700 Mbits/second. The goal is to create a unified standard for wired home networks. [See our article on G.hn later in this issue.] ( www.itu.int/ITU-T )


Briefly Noted: Updates, Observations and Trends

Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations you might have missed. This month's briefs focus on HDTV and UWB in China, WiMAX deployments and hopes for US policy on broadband-related technologies.

HDTV in China

An IMS Research study "The Worldwide Market for High-Definition TV Equipment & Services" has concluded that 46 million homes in twenty-five Chinese cities have converted from analog to digital cable. While satellite is expected to serve the majority of HDTV households in the Asia Pacific region, in China cable is expected to be the dominant digital platform by the end of 2009. ( www.imsresearch.com )

UWB

The WiMedia Alliance announced that China’s Ministry of Information Industry Technology (MIIT) has approved spectrum use for UWB in China. China joins a growing number of markets worldwide which have approved UWB use, including the USA, EU, Korea and Japan. ( www.wimedia.org )

WiMAX

The WiMAX Forum has announced that 802.16 networks now cover 430m people worldwide and are on a path to nearly double to 800m pops by end of 2010. This is based on almost 460 deployments in 135 countries, and new roll-outs will be driven by auctions in India and Brazil, among others. ( www.wimaxforum.org )

US Policy--We're Waiting

After years of being "underwhelmed" with the progress made on rural broadband, digital health technologies and smart grid technology, we are hopeful that the US economic stimulus package will start realizing some of the possibilities these technologies offer. The $787 billion stimulus packages allocates $7.2 billion for broadband grant and loan programs, an estimated $4.3 billion for smart grid-related projects and $19 billion for health information technology. Let's hope it is spent wisely.

As part of the Obama administration's technology support, they have created two new positions: chief information officer (CIO) of the US and US CTO. The CIO position--responsible for policy and strategic planning of federal information technology investments--is being filled by Vivek Kundra, former chief technology officer of the District of Columbia. The CTO position has not yet been defined but is expected to focus on overall technology policy.


CES 2009: "Connected Electronics Show"

With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the theme of the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was "How do I connect to thee? Let me count the ways." Whether it was TVs, mobile phones, blood pressure meters or untethered monitors, connected devices ruled the day.

This issue covers the four areas we found most interesting among the many things that connect:

  • TV Sets Riding "The Internet Avalanche"
  • Networking Technologies to "Connect My Stuff"
  • Connecting for Health
  • Feng Shui and EcoTechnology

This year's visit to CES left us wondering if the show initials now stand for "Connected Electronics Show".


TV Sets Riding "The Internet Avalanche"

Internet video on the TV was a big deal at CES 2009. In a keynote address, Jong Woo Park, President, Samsung Digital Media, said "TV is no longer just TV. TV is interactive TV these days. You will use the same TV and the same remote control, but have completely different functionality."

Of course we've heard that song before. Twelve years ago in Set-top mating dance escalates, Leslie Ellis and Monica Hogan described "a mating ritual between consumer-electronics firms, software giants and set-top manufacturers. The end game: a successful ride on the Internet avalanche, whether that happens on the PC, the TV or both." (Multichannel News, Sept 22, 1997)

It might even be true this time around.

  • TVs are now digital. Content that would have been hard to view on analog sets--like text--looks great on the new digital sets.
  • Broadband is widely deployed, at ever-higher speeds.
  • The Internet offers a flood of video content available for free. It started with user-generated content and now includes more and more from the broadcast networks.
  • Finally, PCs and DVRs and smartphones have gotten us all accustomed to living in an interactive, on-demand world.

We've written extensively about linking the TV to the PC and to the Internet (see For More Information below), so we'll concentrate on what seems new.

One way of looking at the various approaches is to divide them into three categories:

  • Net-enabled TVs
  • Boxes (CPE) that connect the TV to the Internet
  • Network intelligence

Net-enabled TVs

Net-enabled TVs have a direct connection to the Internet, with hardware and software for Internet application built into the TV. Many companies have been working on the necessary hardware and software technologies.

Yahoo TV Widgets --> Click for larger pictureIntel and Yahoo! have been working together on the Widget Channel, using Yahoo software and Intel's Media Processor 3100 chip to bring Yahoo Widgets to the TV. At CES, Toshiba and Samsung demonstrated TV Widgets with Intel and Yahoo, and Toshiba said it planned to bring products to market this year.

AnySource Media has a different approach. Its Internet Video Navigator software platform is embedded in silicon in the TV. The heavy lifting is done out in the Internet by the associated IVN Data Center, which aggregates content for TV viewing. At CES, AnySource demonstrated its solution with TV maker Funai.

These directly connected sets are positioned as "walled gardens," connecting only to pre-determined media services and applications.


Internet Boxes

Internet Boxes provide the necessary functionality to connect the TV to the Internet. Some are special purpose boxes, like Vudu and Roku, which connect to specific services such as Netflix. Others are more general purpose and include PCs, game players like XBox, Blu-ray players, and DVRs such as TiVo. At CES we focused mostly on boxes available through the retail channel, but some new cable and telco-provided set-tops also fall in this category.

High definition (HD) was supposed to be a competitive advantage for cable companies and their on-demand video services. It looks like that edge is being eroded by "over the top" video that comes to the TV through a high-speed Internet connection rather than through the traditional video distribution.

In the Roku/Netflix partnership, Roku has released support for streaming HD content through the use of advanced compression technology. Netflix is adding hundreds of HD titles to their catalog. The Roku box sells for $99.

Vudu's video on demand service and box claim to deliver movies at up to full 1080p HD resolution and with 5.1 surround sound.

Greg Gudorf showed us Moxi retail box --> Click for larger pictureOne product which caught our attention was the retail version of the Moxi HD DVR with CableCARD from Digeo. Digeo has been a settop provider to cable companies like Charter and BendBroadband for some time, but what was new at this show was Moxi's retail version, sold exclusively on Amazon. We've always liked Moxi's user interface. We've been promised one to test, so will let you know how we think the experience compares with other DVRs we've used for years.


Network Intelligence

This approach puts the intelligence in the network rather than the end-user device. This is an interesting category, because it is one that has been subject to "common wisdom" which changes over time. There was a long time when increasing intelligence in the end-user device was the major market direction. Increasingly, "cloud computing" has become the mantra and the tide is shifting toward the network.

We have believed for some time that, with the pace of technological changes, it was questionable to concentrate processing intelligence in the CPE, because the life cycles and capabilities of personal computers and those of consumer electronics are so different. Internet technologies are constantly evolving; it's easy to download the latest version to a PC, but hard to a TV or fixed-function Internet box.

Because the installed base of cable settop boxes includes many with very limited functionality, CableLabs created EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Format). This specification was designed to run on most existing settops, while still providing some base level capability for interactivity.

ActiveVideo's Jeff Miller --> Click for larger pictureActiveVideo's long-standing philosophy is to put the video processing load and applications in the network, with a "thin client" built into a set-top box. At CES, we visited with their team including Jeff Miller, their CEO, and John Callahan, their relatively-new CTO, to get an update on their progress.

Miller explained how ActiveVideo's network-based approach can be combined with EBIF to make more extensive interactivity available using existing settop boxes.

We saw several examples of the kinds of things that this largely network-based approach makes relatively straight-forward.

  • Access and searching for You Tube videos can be integrated into the consumer experience on the TV
  • ActiveVideo demo of HomeDepot --> Click for larger pictureWhen a user wants to interact with a vendor such as Home Depot to purchase or get detailed video instructions, the Active Video interface can provide the follow on videos and information.
  • ActiveVideo demo of Showtime promo --> Click for larger pictureIt's easy to implement marketing campaigns where ordering can take place immediately from the TV, without going to the PC. For example, we were told that when Oceanic Cable promoted Showtime upgrades, there were almost 20 times more upgrades via TV interaction than with a PC.

Further details on how ActiveVideo can be combined with EBIF are contained in a whitepaper which can be downloaded from the ActiveVideo Networks website.

[Editor's Disclosure: We previously provided consulting services for ICTV, ActiveVideo's predecessor company.]

Since the CES show, there has been an explosion of devices, services and companies targeting this market. One new example, Zillion TV, currently in beta testing, has its own settop and is targeted for distribution thru telcos, cable operators and other service providers.


For More Information

We've written many articles on this subject. Here are three from last year:

( www.intel.com ) ( www.yahoo.com ) ( www.toshiba.com ) ( www.samsung.com ) ( www.anysourcemedia.com ) ( www.vudu.com ) ( www.roku.com ) ( www.netflix.com ) ( www.digeo.com ) ( www.activevideo.com ) ( www.zilliontv.tv )


"Connect My Stuff": Networking Technologies

Home networking is moving quickly into the consumer electronics space. At CES we saw lots of CE devices incorporating some form of networking: MoCA, G.hn, HomePNA, UPA, HomePlug, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth were all well represented. Broadcom showed new chips with integrated MoCA, G.hn continues to gain traction, and Wi-Fi keeps expanding.


MoCA From Broadcom

Existing coaxial cable is the best existing physical platform for "no new wires" home networking. We've been following the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA)--a trade group promoting one of these technologies--for nearly five years. For CES 2009, MoCA created a clever website called Connect My Stuff! featuring video interviews about home networking with people on the CES show floor.

Nearly all MoCA devices have been based on chips from Entropic Communications, MoCA's founding technology company. Broadcom, which had previously supported a competing coax networking technology, switched to the MoCA camp several years ago.

Steve Palm of Broadcom (lower right) --> Click for larger pictureAt CES, Broadcom unveiled its first MoCA chips. Broadcom is not making specific chips for MoCA; instead, MoCA is included in new highly-integrated System on Chips (SoCs). The two new chips Broadcom announced and demonstrated at CES form the basis for highly-capable set-top boxes. The BCM7420 is designed to form the core of the primary box with dual-channel video and DVR functionality; the BCM7410 is designed for a remote or lower-end box. In a multi-room DVR scenario, the boxes use MoCA to communicate with each other over the coaxial cables that already run between all the TVs in the typical North American house.

These chips are shipping now. When asked about their cost, Broadcom will say only that the incremental cost of SoCs with MoCA built-in "is less than an external solution."

In late 2008, Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) approved MoCA as an additional LAN technology for communications between DLNA devices, joining Ethernet and Wi-Fi. At CES, Broadcom stressed how MoCA could be used to provide connectivity between a variety of audio and video devices.


G.hn and HomeGrid Forum

There are now far too many incompatible networking technologies operating over the existing wiring in the home. ITU-T G.hn and HomeGrid Forum aim to change that. We began following both last year, and first wrote about them in The Everywire Standard: G.hn and HomeGrid Forum last May. At CES we were able to meet with many of the key players in G.hn and HomeGrid, and get a good sense for its progress.

ITU G.hn

G.hn has been under way at the ITU for about three years. The Study Group achieved its first major milestone at the end of 2008 when the ITU "consented" to the first part of an international standard for communications over all types of existing wiring. This new standard, called ITU-T G.9960, includes the overall architecture and the physical (PHY) layer.

At CES, we were told that the second part--the higher-level MAC layer--is "80% done". It is expected to be finalized in May and consented in September.

HomeGrid Forum

Matt Theall, HomeGrid Forum --> Click for larger pictureHomeGrid Forum was set up last year to act as the marketing and certification trade group to support G.hn (in the same way the Wi-Fi Alliance supports IEEE 802.11). At CES we met with Matt Theall, president of HomeGrid.

Matt told us that HomeGrid was pleased with the progress so far, and has started working on formal plans to test G.hn conformance and interoperability (C&I). We asked why they were starting so early, since the G.hn specs won't be finished until later this year. Matt said the members wanted the specs to be available so chip makers could test their first-generation chips against the specs before testing them against other chips.

We asked Matt how long it would take for G.hn to displace the many home networking technologies already competing in the market. He said he didn't think it would happen quickly: "This market is going to be fragmented for a long time."

CopperGate and HomePNA

Oren Mansour and Michael Weissman, Coppergate --> Click for larger pictureCoppergate is the technology leader in HomePNA, and has been one of the leading proponents of G.hn. At CES, we met with Michael Weissman, VP Marketing North America, and Oren Mansour, Director Business Development. We asked how quickly G.hn chips would come to market. They said they expected at least three chip companies to have early chips. Coppergate expects to be one of the first, and we were told that their chips will be available in 2010.

We mentioned that several key players had complained to us about the way decisions were being made in G.hn. Michael said he thought the G.hn philosophy was good: "Everyone claims everyone else has an unfair advantage. There's sufficient mutual pain to all that there is legitimate work to be done on all sides."

DS2 and UPA

DS2 is the founder of the Universal Powerline Association (UPA) (one of the competing industry standards for powerline networking) and a strong proponent of G.hn. At CES, we met with Chano Gomez, VP Marketing, and John Egan, Strategic Marketing Manager.

Chano said DS2 is already working on its first G.hn chip: "We don't have to wait for the MAC to be finished -- we can handle the MAC in a microprocessor. When everything is complete, we can do everything in hardware." He expects samples will be available by yearend with volume shipments in the first half of 2010.

DS2 is a founding member of HomeGrid Forum. Chano said DS2 was glad HomeGrid had started its C&I program early: "You know what tests you have to pass. You can test major portions of the PHY before the MAC is done."

"Dual Mode" Chips Provide Backward Compatibility

In our discussion with Coppergate, we observed that some participants in G.hn were upset that there was no defined "backward compatibility" with the earlier home networking technologies. Service providers using earlier technologies say they need backward compatibility so that when they deploy G.hn the new devices won't interfere with the earlier technology--and ideally will interoperate with it.

Michael Weissman said "There's no way G.hn could have happened if we had to have backward compatibility". But he pointed out that there was nothing in G.hn that prevented a chip maker from including backward compatibility in a G.hn chip. He indicated that Coppergate would include backward compatibility with HomePNA in its G.hn chips--"dual-mode HomePNA/G.hn"--and said he expected the leaders of other earlier technologies would do the same because their customers would insist on it.

Similarly, Chano Gomez said DS2 is working on a dual-mode UPA/G.hn chip.

So it was no surprise that in late February, HomeGrid Forum announced an agreement with three industry organizations--HomePNA, UPA, and the Consumer Electronics Powerline Communication Alliance (CEPCA). The announcement said they would work together "to promote G.hn and ensure co-existence between G.hn-based products and those using other current generation powerline, phoneline, and coax networking technologies."


Expanding the Role of Wi-Fi

At the Atheros booth at CES, we had a very interesting discussion with Mahesh Venkatraman, Director of Marketing, Consumer and Retail Networking Products. Atheros is one of the leaders in Wi-Fi, and we discussed the future of Wi-Fi and the role of new radio technologies such as ultra wide band (UWB) in future mobile devices.

Mahesh observed that all mobile devices have a 3G or 4G radio to connect to cellular networks, most have a Bluetooth radio, and many now have a Wi-Fi radio. He pointed to two different approaches for expanding the role of the Wi-Fi radio in mobile devices: personal area networks based on the next generation of Bluetooth, and using a mobile device as a Wi-Fi access point.

Bluetooth Alternate MAC/PHY

The Bluetooth SIG has been working on a "high speed spec" for several years. While many refer to this as "Bluetooth 3.0," the SIG is careful to say that it has not yet given the new spec a formal name. The core of the new spec is providing a mechanism so that the higher-layer Bluetooth protocols can operate on top of an "alternate MAC/PHY"--Bluetooth can use whatever high-speed radio technology is already built into a device, instead of adding another high-speed radio just for Bluetooth. The SIG says the initial version of the high-speed spec, now planned for some time in 2009, will support UWB and 802.11.

This would allow the 802.11 radio in a mobile device to simultaneously support two different upper-level protocols: Wi-Fi for local area networking, and Bluetooth for personal area networking. Mahesh indicated that Atheros would initially implement high-speed Bluetooth on 802.11a/b/g radios operating at about 20 Mbps; later it would be implemented on 802.11n radios at much higher speeds.

Mobile Devices as Access Points

Until now, the primary use of the Wi-Fi radio in a mobile device has been to provide a high-speed connection to the Internet, through a broadband network at work or at home, and through a Wi-Fi hot spot when away. Now Atheros has announced that the Wi-Fi radio can also operate as an Wi-Fi access point, providing a way for other devices such as notebook PCs communicate with each other or connect to the Internet.

In what Atheros calls "direct connect technology," the wireless radio acts as "a soft access point" using a form of peer-to-peer networking. This functionality has already been implemented in Atheros 802.11n chips. It is now part of the AR6002 flagship a/b/g chip for mobile phones, which can use the Wi-Fi radio to share the 3G/4G WAN connection with several client devices.

Mahesh said "direct connect" could be used to create "a local PAN" to connect several devices together. As an example, he pointed to a teacher in a classroom communicating with her students through their mobile devices.

Atheros photo of Dave and Sandy --> Click for larger pictureDave and Sandy on a Mac --> Click for larger pictureAnother use of direct connect is to provide a simple connection between a digital camera and a PC. Mehesh took our picture with a digital camera equipped with a Wi-Fi radio and instantly transferred it to a Mac laptop.

We had reported on a similar demonstration using UWB a few years ago at CES, so we asked Mahesh his view of the prospects for UWB in mobile devices. He said he believed "UWB will be secondary. A third radio does not make a lot of sense. We should add more value to what is already there."

Intel, another Wi-Fi leader, has been promoting a similar concept called Intel My Wi-Fi Technology. Intel has conducted interoperability tests between Centrino 2 notebook PCs and a variety of Wi-Fi logoed consumer devices. A recent white paper by Intel "lists selected Wi-Fi enabled consumer devices that have been tested and passed interoperability testing with Intel® My WiFi Technology," including printers, digital cameras, projectors, and digital picture frames from nine companies.

( www.mocalliance.org ) ( www.entropic.com ) ( www.broadcom.com ) ( www.dlna.org ) ( www.itu.int ) ( www.homegridforum.org ) ( www.copper-gate.com ) ( www.homepna.org ) ( www.ds2.es ) ( www.upaplc.org ) ( www.cepca.org ) ( www.atheros.com ) ( www.bluetooth.com ) ( www.intel.com )


Connecting For Health

Emerging technologies can play a prominent role in the way we keep people well. This focus on Connected Health technologies was very much in evidence at the 2009 CES. We are hopeful that it will be included in the US focus on improving access to healthcare and improving its quality and efficiency.

Healthcare is a very complex ecosystem in which end users and their families, medical professionals, health care institutions like hospitals, insurance companies and the government all play roles. Everyone asserts that they want to improve quality and access and reduce costs, but the incentives in the current system don't promote those goals. Doctors bill for treatments and consumers put much of the responsibility for healthcare on the provider, rather than assuming some accountability for their own behavior and health.

Many of the healthcare technologies which go beyond the traditional delivery of services are focused on better ways to manage chronic diseases and conditions. Some are focused on enabling seniors to live independently and safely in their homes longer. The goal of these systems is to provide better quality of life in the home as opposed to a nursing or clinical setting. These technologies can provide remote monitoring of vital signs, sleep and fall monitoring and in-home safety.

There are differing ways in which such healthcare can get paid for. On the one hand, there are traditional reimbursement and fee-for-service models. To the extent that these traditional models involve technologies for remote patient monitoring and interventions, the equipment has generally been termed "medical grade". Although we have been unable to find a formal definition of this term, it implies that it conforms to relevant regulations and has been more extensively tested --which results in equipment characterized as medical grade being relatively expensive.

An alternate model is for end users to pay for the equipment, either to promote their own wellness or to check on family members who may need assistance. Equipment in these instances is generally described as "consumer grade" which means that it is not represented as meeting specific standards or having regulatory agency approvals. Such equipment is frequently much less expensive--sometimes by factors of ten or more.

Meridian Health at CES --> Click for larger pictureAt CES we saw several systems approaches, as well as some of the separate end devices used for health monitoring and safety. In the Digital Health TechZone sponsored by Meridian Health we focused on systems approaches designed for seniors and their caregivers. Meridian is a New Jersey-based, not-for-profit health care services provider which is evaluating alternative ways to manage common problems associated with aging. They have been exploring how home-based technologies can promote safer and more efficient health care through the use of technology.

We looked at two systems focused on personal monitoring and alerting for seniors and their caregivers. In both the primary caregivers were typically family members; professional intervention was for emergency response. They had different assumptions about willingness to pay and level of functionality.

myHalo installation kit --> Click for larger pictureHalo Monitoring provides a Personal Health Monitoring and Alert System, which includes a chest strap transmitter, a home gateway appliance, a caregiver's personal monitoring portal and 24/7 professional alert response. A chest strap wirelessly transmits secure vital signs, activities of daily living, and critical event information (such as when a user falls). Information about potentially critical situations is transmitted without prompting by the senior. The Halo device is worn under clothing, and secure information can be viewed by assigned caregivers and authorized family members through a standard Web browser on any personal computer. The system is paid for on a monthly basis and is intended to be affordable by family members who are concerned about a loved one. Meridian Health is a reseller for Halo Monitoring.

GrandCare Systems --> Click for larger pictureGrandCare Systems offers a more comprehensive system, which entails a substantial upfront cost. It can provide not only monitoring of vital signs but also medication access, door openings, temperature, lights, etc. The person being cared for can receive all sorts of information and alerts as well as communication from their loved ones on their TV set--this can include appointments, medication minders and also pictures and messages from family. For installation, it requires wireless sensors for the items being monitored and a "communications station" (with processing and communications functionality) connected to the Internet and to a TV or dedicated monitor.

Intel PHS4000 --> Click for larger pictureAnother section of CES featured the Intel Health Guide PHS4000, as well as a number of individual monitoring devices. The Intel system is meant for connecting the patient with the healthcare professional--not the family member--and is intended for use under professional guidance. It seems to be positioned as a medical grade system. Its purposes are to facilitate communications between the patient and the professional, and to provide actionable individualized health data to the patient. The system includes an integrated video camera so that two-way video calls can take place.

A large number of individual monitoring devices were also shown at CES. These included many different blood pressure and weight monitoring devices with wired and/or wireless connectivity for communication to an access point. These endpoints for telemedicine systems are designed to predict and help reduce the risks of failing health.

Today's U.S. "healthcare" system is based on compensation for treating illness. The promise of systems and devices like those discussed above is that they can help transform "illness care" into a concerted effort attuned to keeping people well. We hope the new administration will craft its heathcare initiative to redress the balance between caring for the sick, helping those with chronic diseases manage them effectively, and providing support to help people maintain their health and independence.

( www.meridianhealth.com ) ( www.halomonitoring.com ) ( www.grandcare.com ) ( www.intel.com/healthcare )


Feng Shui and EcoTechnology

CES is such a frenetic environment that Sandy always needs a few things to make her smile, plus something that helps see the show from a different perspective.

Smiles

Server Feng Shui from Microsoft --> Click for larger pictureMicrosoft posted a series of humorous ads for their home servers in the outdoor area in front of the Central hall, near the bus loading zones. When I googled "Microsoft server feng shui"--one of the ads that got my attention--I found a page that included "recommended readings". One was "Server Feng Shui--Embark on the file Path to Enlightenment" and another was titled "Mommy Why Is There a Server in the House?--Helping Your Child Understand the Stay-at-Home Server". Check it out to see I couldn't possibly be making this up.

Kooky USB drives --> Click for larger pictureA look at EMTEC's Kooky USB 2.0 flash drives proved that we are seriously out of the loop because we didn't know about Kooky products. We learned from the Kooky Website and then from our more savvy friends with young children that Kooky Klickers are a collection of colorful pens with unique faces and crazy hair. Each has its own name and is a member of a Krew--kind of like a little family. Kids use them to write with, and also collect and trade with their friends.

Green is Good

Asus Bamboo --> Click for larger pictureOne of the growing trends at this year's show was ecofriendly products. The Asus Bamboo series computers clearly fit in this category. They have a "sustainable bamboo exterior" and "intelligent power allocation". Asus was also promoting their "Intelligent Auto-Adjusted Power Savings with ASUS Green Network Technology".

Motorola was on the green bandwagon with their "100% recyclable W233 Renew mobile phone housing," made from plastics that contain recycled water bottles. "Through an alliance with carbonfund.org, Motorola offsets the amount of energy required to manufacture, distribute and operate the phone."

THOMSON was showing its TG870, a femtocell integrated 3G IP Gateway which will allow operators to deliver multimedia services to the home network over any 3G handset. It boasts an eco-friendly design that halves power consumption. It is also a residential gateway that offers ADSL connectivity, VoIP, 4 Ethernet ports and an 802.11b/g wireless LAN interface.

Nextar, a company that "strives to be Bold & New" announced their solar-powered Bluetooth headset and hands-free cell phone kits for cars. The solar chargers recharge while a vehicle is driven.

( www.microsoft.com ) ( www.emtecelectronics.com ) ( www.asus.com ) ( www.motorola.com ) ( www.thomson.com ) ( www.nextar.com )


Upcoming Conferences

Cable Connection -- Spring 2009

This year will be the first Cable Connection - Spring consolidated event, which includes the Cable Show, as well as events from the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), CTAM and CableLabs. All show events are taking place in Washington, DC. The Cable Show is being held April 1-3, 2009 at the Washington Convention Center, which is also the location of SCTE's April 3, 2009 Conference on Emerging Technology, and CableLabs CableNET exhibit. We hope to see you there.

The CTAM Research Conference, focused on improving research skills and making more informed marketing decisions, also takes place in Washington, DC on April 5-7 at the JW Marriott.

( www.cableconnectionweek.com/Spring ) ( 2009.thecableshow.com ) ( et.scte.org ) ( www.cablenet.org ) ( www.ctam.com/conferences/research )

Sixth Annual Healthcare Unbound Conference & Exhibition

The Sixth Annual Healthcare Unbound Conference will focus on the convergence of consumer and healthcare technologies to facilitate participatory medicine. It takes place in Seattle, WA at the Seattle Airport Marriott on June 22-23, 2009. Healthcare Unbound has been defined as "technology in, on and around the body that frees care from formal institutions." The program will have a strong focus on the use of remote monitoring / home telehealth / e-health technologies for wellness promotion and disease management. It will provide a good opportunity to network with executives and clinicians from across the US and abroad.

( www.tcbi.org )


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