A Japanese government-led team is showing off the possibilities of home networking by connecting all the appliances and electronic devices in a rented house.
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The project was started by Japan's Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications in 1999. Jeita, the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, oversaw the project.
Aided by Matsushita (aka Panasonic), Hitachi, Sony and Sharp, among others, Jeita has spent the past year hooking up 50 home networking appliances.
The rented Jeita house is a typical two-storey Japanese home, complete with a traditional Japanese tatami room, a living room and kitchen on the ground floor and bedrooms and a study on the first floor.
But visitors to the house quickly notice some not-so-typical features. At the front door, visitors are greeted by Sony's pet robot Aibo. And from the living room, visitors can take it in turns to use a mobile phone to issue commands to automate watering the garden and feeding the dog outside.
"Every device in the home, even a small light, has a private IP address," said Yoshinori Sugihara, general manager of the Special Project Promotion Office of Jeita. "Technically speaking, the systems adopted here are fairly simple. While engineers might not be especially proud of them, we tried to build this house from the users' point of view."
Other special features of the Jeita house include:
All the home networking technologies incorporated in the Jeita house will soon be commercially available. The project team aimed to keep the cost of fully networking a home as low as $37,450, Sugihara said.