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January 10, 2013

Standards Are Needed to Implement Networks in Next Generation of 'Smart' Homes: UPnP Forum

As households worldwide increasingly are ready and eager to become connected to smart technology, there is a “critical” need for standardization.

In fact, it will be IP-based standards that will “lead the way in implementing next generation Smart Grid and Smart Energy networks for the Connected Home,” according to the UPnP Forum (Universal Plug and Play).

The time to implement the standards is vital, given production plans. The global forum announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that over one billion additional UPnP Forum audio/video products are likely to be shipped by 2014.

“Now is the time to act, in order to simplify the connectivity and usability of electronic devices and services within the home, and enable the Internet of Things,” the UPnP Forum said.

The new standards will relate to next generation Smart Grid and Smart Energy networks for connected homes.

UPnP Forum is a global standards organization, and it will play a key role in future smart home technology and services.

"Standards provide a common communications architecture from a utility or energy service provider into home networks and between all of the intelligent devices,” Scott Lofgren, UPnP Forum vice president and treasurer, explained in a recent statement. “UPnP-certified devices on existing home networks provide a perfect platform for delivering Smart Grid communications and can easily bridge networks, allowing utilities and providers to communicate via a private IP backbone with their customers."

"It's all about the customers, many of whom are not willing to buy all new devices just to support integration with Smart Grid and Smart Energy platforms, nor are they willing to live with technology islands that cannot communicate with each other,” he added. “Today's connected world demands reliable and secure solutions that are easy to use and control with multi-vendor flexibility, while providing a balance between comfort, convenience, and cost."

The UPnP Forum has already set up a Home Energy Management and Smart Grid (HEMS) Working Committee, which is meeting to find ways to enhance device control protocols which will support secure Smart Grid applications.

In addition, a recent UPnP Forum whitepaper called “Smart Grid-Enabled Home,” stated that, “The use of existing networks and UPnP technologies for the Smart Grid enables ‘quick-to-market solutions’ while encouraging new categories of products and services.  Connecting Smart Grid devices in the home is easy, robust, and secure using the hundreds of millions of UPnP networks already in place.”

Standards are important for other tech sectors, as well. For example, in September the UPnP Forum said that “only a standardized approach to the cloud-delivered service environment will enable a breakthrough in interoperable seamless service integration into devices.”

"Currently there is a real lack of standards for cloud service delivery and combined with the proliferation of next-generation services, many users are left flipping between a multitude of applications or frustrated at the lack of support on their platforms. The lack of certified standards makes it difficult, if not impossible, for manufacturers to innovate the user experience and provide seamless services to the end consumer," UPnP Forum President Alan Messer warned in a statement that was carried in September by TMCnet.

The UPnP Forum is made up of some 994 businesses in computing, printing and networking; consumer electronics; home appliances, automation, control and security; and mobile products. Its protocols are built on open, Internet-based communication standards.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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