LG Makes a Big Play for the Connected Home

By Tara Seals December 06, 2013

Looking to boost interoperability, LG Electronics said that it will incorporate the AllJoyn peer-to-peer technology into its 2014 line of smart TVs, which will allow multiple and disparate second-screen devices to control apps on the TV and vice versa. The move paves the way for a variety of innovative connected home use cases, from gaming to home automation.

AllJoyn was originally developed by Qualcomm as an open source protocol that supports P2P connections between TVs, smartphones, tablets and other smart devices, across operating systems. So, different smartphones running Android, iOS and Windows Phone will be able to communicate simultaneously with an AllJoyn-enabled LG smart TV. AllJoyn integrates with the existing LG middleware, to preserve the LG look and feel.

The move places the TV at the center of the consumer entertainment world as the home becomes more connected. “Unlike other appliances, TVs offer fast, complex processors that give them the ability to process information from a vast network of smart home goods,” AllJoyn explained. “The smart TV enables a new set of consumer experiences with the potential to turn the TV into a centralized hub for complete home automation.”

The applications are myriad—starting with low-hanging fruit. Developers can leverage AllJoyn to create, say, a multiplayer game that is liberated from platform, boosting interop and the entire LG ecosystem: "In Mini Motor Racing, one person could steer his or her car around the track using the LG Magic Remote while the other players control their vehicles via the LG Gamepad app for mobile devices,” the company explained.

But AllJoyn-enabled smart TVs can also communicate with other compatible devices as the Internet of Things ramps up, making for less obvious applications. For example, a TV can receive a message from an AllJoyn-capable oven—a pop-up, onscreen notification that says, say, “Pizza is done.” The AllJoyn Control Panel Service then lets users turn off the oven directly from the TV dashboard without getting up—an perk for someone in the middle of a gaming session, watching a crucial play in a game or following breaking news.

"LG will now enable consumers to more effortlessly connect their networked devices in the home and continues to show a strong commitment to the next generation of convergence technology," said Richard Choi, senior vice-president of the smart business center at LG Electronics.

The company is addressing one of the hurdles facing connected home device adoption: fragmentation. Stratecast noted that the connected home is essentially a virtual living space that overlays the physical living space. But that’s an expansive view that can include many things. “The market needs to understand that consumers are being asked to choose between different value propositions that tend to confuse the concept of a well-integrated communication and computing environment in the home. Where there is confusion, consumption is limited,” Stratecast said.

The firm added, “How does one, for example, compare a networked toaster to a new DVD player? For that matter, how does a consumer make that comparison. When every participant in a networked home space is contending against every other participant for a limited consumer wallet, who wins?”

But, according to analysts at visiongain, it will be the connected home's interoperability (such as AllJoyn) that allows content and services to be delivered to ultimately more endpoints, thus increasing revenue opportunities for everyone in the ecosystem.

The time to strike is certainly now—the market is set to grow at a 49 percent CAGR through 2018. “While the connected home comes in various guises, our research shows that many consumers are already utilizing many smart devices and services for low-level smart home functionality,” visiongain said. “Building on a foundation of consumer interest ecosystem members and new market entrants must act swiftly in order to stake a claim in a market which will be worth $101 billion in 2013.

It’s worth noting that LG’s support of AllJoyn is a greenfield move—this is the first big smart TV contract for the technology. And AllJoyn faces competition from competing protocols, like DLNA, which was started in 2003 to help operators deliver services from the set-top box to peripherals. With home networking in place and a common center such as a set top box or one gateway inside home, DLNA discovers compatible devices automatically, discovers the content on the devices and then supports the streaming of that content back and forth in a one-to-one connection between devices. There are about 500 mobile devices with DLNA functionality built in as well as quite a number of developed apps.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

TechZone360 Contributor

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