A group of IT and telecomms companies are pooling their efforts to develop a Java based interface for connecting home networks to the outside world.
The Open Service Gateway Initiative (OSGI), launched this week, is backed by 15 companies including IBM, Oracle, Sun, Ericsson, Motorola and Toshiba as well as network operator Cable & Wireless.
By creating an open gateway specification, the companies hope to make it easier for service providers to offer online services for network home appliances. Such services are likely to include home security, intercoms and energy management.
The specification would run on a gateway server within a customers house, acting as an interface between external phone networks and internal networked devices.
Written under the new Java Community Process, the specification will be designed to work with other emerging networking protocols such as Jini and Bluetooth, as well as emerging communications technology such as ADSL.
A draft specification is expected to be available for public review by the middle of the year.
"With the OSGI specification, we are finally able to bring integrated communications all the way - into the home," said Chris Gare, director of network services and technology at Cable and Wireless.
"This will create a new market for network and service operators which will lead to a new generation of Internet and communications services," he added.
Other members of the initiative include Alcatel, Electriciti de France, Enron Communications, Lucent Technologies, Network Computer, Nortel Networks, Philips Electronics and Sybase.
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