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Chip maker aims to connect home media

Silicon Image Inc, the chip maker that helped create a widely adopted digital data transmission standard, on Thursday announced a new technology that will let users play and control their digital media on any screen in the house.
/ Source: Reuters

Silicon Image Inc, the chip maker that helped create a widely adopted digital data transmission standard, on Thursday announced a new technology that will let users play and control their digital media on any screen in the house.

Many industry players are working on different ways to network the home's devices, so Silicon Image can expect to see plenty of competition. The company, which helped pioneer the high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI), is debuting its offering at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The new technology, called LiquidHD, can connect a home's TVs, Blu-ray and DVD players, DVRs, gaming systems and PCs on one network. It will allow, for example, a user to pause a movie or a video game in the living room and resume playing in the bedroom, all controlled by a single remote.

"This is presaging a whole new generation of smarter consumer devices that are aware of each other and able to share content across a very cheap commodity network," Silicon Image Chief Executive Steve Tirado said in an interview ahead of the start of CES.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company said it expects the first products featuring LiquidHD to be available in 2010. Silicon Image said Fox Studios has endorsed LiquidHD's security and content protection architecture.

To get the technology into the consumer ecosystem, the company has created a chip for manufacturers to embed in the next generation of TVs. Makers of devices such as DVRs and Blu-ray players will be offered a software kit.

TVs currently on the market would be able to use LiquidHD via a small external device based on the company's chip.

To promote the new technology, Silicon Image plans to pursue an approach similar to that used with HDMI, a standard used to transmit uncompressed digital data that has been adopted by more than 800 manufacturers.

The company is forming a consortium to develop an international LiquidHD standard and promote it. If successful, Silicon Image plans to license the technology through the standard, allowing competitors to build products, just as they do with HDMI.

Tirado said he is confident the company will be able to implement the technology right down to handhelds, allowing mobile devices to share content on one network.