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World Wide Web ensnaring the living room

Nov 12, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The number of digital TVs, gaming consoles, and set-top boxes equipped with embedded web browsers will grow from 60 million in 2008 to 214 million by 2013, forecasts ABI. The research firm lists the open source Webkit rendering engine and CEA-2014 UI standard among key emerging technologies shaping the market.

ABI says web browsers are already “common” in Japanese TVs, with uptake happening now in North America. Some vendors, such as Sony, are integrating browsers in order to expand Web service offerings, it says. Like Pioneer, Sanyo, and JVC-Victor, Sony uses Linux in myriad TV models shipping since 2003.

Today, many embedded browser platforms are available, ranging from commercial products like Access Netfront and Opera to implementations built on the open source Gecko and Webkit rendering engines. ABI calls out Webkit, in particular, predicting that “many” initial implementations of an important and relatively new “CE-2014” standard will use “a variation” of Webkit. ABI also notes that search engine giant Yahoo! has lined up its Widgets! technology behind CE-2014.

ABI is likely referring to CEA-2014, not CE-2014. Though little detail has been shared publicly (the standard costs about $200 to download for non-CEA members), the spec appears aimed at providing a standardized way for browsers on TVs, phones, and other devices to host the user interface for applications running on remote systems (i.e., Internet services). Proceedings from a September CEA meeting published in the CEA “Monthly Update” suggest that the group's ATSC Mobile/Handheld SIG (special interest group) is working to develop a CEA-2014-A compliance test, which will include:

  • Setup: discovery and connection of remote UI
  • Devices (both client and server)
  • Capability exchange
  • HTTP headers
  • XHTML profile (CE-HTML)
  • NotifSocket scripting object
  • 3rd party notifications
  • AV control
  • Save-restore
  • Cookie support
  • Robustness guidelines (server-side only)

Michael Wolf, ABI research director, stated, “Most forward-thinking consumer electronics vendors today are integrating IP ports in their mainline consumer electronics devices.”

The finding is from ABI's recent study, “Web-Based Living Room User Interface Overview." Besides tracking the adoption of browsers for “consumer living room Web surfing,” it aims to track standards and vendor efforts to integrate web-based technologies into various user interfaces, ABI said.

Delivering web services to devices has become something of an obsession across the embedded market in recent years. For example, Nokia purchased Trolltech in part because its Webkit integration simplifies delivering web services with C++ applications. Another interesting new technology, released just this week, is Movial's D-Bus Bridge, which extends the Javascript APIs in Gecko and Webkit to let “privileged” Javascript applications communicate with local applications and OSes that support D-Bus IPC (interprocess communication).

IPv6 will also likely play a huge role in extending IP and Web services to the living room and greater device world beyond.

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