The Standards Blog

The Emergence of the Digital Home


Single standards can do small jobs, but it takes a village of standards (and standard setting organizations) to enable a Digital Home.

I usually focus in this blog on issues relating to a single standard, but that, of course, doesn't do fairness to the role that standards play in our lives. Just as the utility of having a single standard for one unit of weight (e.g., a pound) would have only incidental value. But with an entire system of physical measurement (i.e., fluid measurement, dimensions, distances, and so on), our entire relationship to the world around us changes.

There's necessarily another dimension to this reality as well, which is this: where do these standards come from?

In the case of the first formal weights and measures, then came from the state. But in the modern ITC world, they come from a multitude of standard setting organizations, old and new, accredited and non-accredited, ad hoc and de facto. And when new commercial opportunities arise, existing standard setting organizations (SSOs) organically reorder themselves, and new ones are formed, to create new standards ecosystems to take advantage of the profits that can be made.

Often, this process is contentious rather than smooth, and this is especially likely to occur where the rewards (and the risks) are great, and the number of alternative approaches to a final standard are numerous.

In last month's issue of the Consortium Standards Bulletin, I describe one such process, using the long-awaited emergence of the Digital Home as an example. In the Editorial I focus on the most crucial area of innovation (other than semiconductors) that has enabled this evolution: a bouquet of new standards that describe a full range of wireless technology, each optimized for a specific set of uses, from close range device-to-device identification, to in-home "mesh" networks, to town wide WiMax networks.

In the Feature Article, I review the entire ecosystem, and identify dozens of the individual SSOs that are working to enable individual elements of the Digital Home, from pervasive networks, to home theatres, to enhanced environmental controls, and more.

For those of you that may have enjoyed an earlier blog entry titled "Sleeping with Big Agnes," there's an expanded version of this entry, which shows the impact on standard setting of the Supersizing of America. That essay, this month's Consider Thisâ₂? installment, is called Body Type Standards, Crash Test Dummies, and Sleeping with Big Agnes There's more, so as they say, check it out. And if you like it, you can have future issues delivered free to your Digital Home by clicking on the link below.

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