The need for information around the home will lead to the link-up of all computing and consumer electronics, it was predicted during this week's Consumer Electronics Show.
The show, which is taking place in Las Vegas, is putting a heavy focus on home networking products and underlines the belief by many that the emergence of a completely networked home is fast approaching.
As more households buy additional PCs to cope with business or recreational demands, there will be a growing need to connect PCs in order to share peripherals such as scanners or access to the Internet.
Consumers will also demand access to both entertainment and information and the television will be expected to integrate Internet access with increased channel capacity and interactive shopping, banking and email. The consumer will recognise, according to the Gartner Group, the potential of the home network to offer time and place utility.
Speaking at the CES, Van Baker, vice president of the Consumer Platform Research at Gartner Group, commented: "With more access to information, consumers will feel the need to have even more information, and increasingly hectic lifestyles will demand more convenience. A home network will merge information and entertainment together."
The Gartner Group also believes that by the end of the decade consumers will have devices and appliances connected in their home. "By 2007 to 2008 we expect to see the final stages of the sentient home emerging," Baker predicted. "It will be the ultimate in convenience for consumers and a home network will become part of daily life."
The home network inputs and outputs will be multimodal, according to the Gartner Group, with microphones and camera allowing gestures or commands to control functions in the house such as switching lights on or off. The home environment will have a personality with devices often synchronised for use, such as tablets or flatpannel devices, allowing information to be accessed throughout the house.
Other essential devices for the home network are expected to include personalised TVs, cable converter boxes, MP3 players and recordable DVD.
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