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Six Questions: DLNA President Nidhish Parikh

8 Aug, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

Nidhish Parikh

Founded by a coalition of companies in 2003, the nonprofit Digital Living Network Alliance, or DLNA, is a 245-plus-member-strong coalition with one goal: To make your consumer electronics talk to each other. Today more than 440 million devices have the ability to wirelessly share photos, music and video, thanks to DLNA.

Nidhish Parikh, president of DLNA, chatted with Home Media Magazine about the future of the Alliance, the companies and products missing from DLNA, and how DLNA could lead to unique content creation.

HM: What types of products are DLNA-certified and how many DLNA-certified products are out there?

Parikh: DLNA-certified products include televisions, mobile phones, storage devices, cameras, printers, game consoles, PCs, photo frames, media adapters, set-top boxes, AV receivers, Blu-ray Disc players and many other products. We also recently began certifying software that is sold directly to consumers through retailers, websites and mobile application stores.

We’ve certified more than 12,000 device models from the world’s leading manufacturers, and this number continues to grow by the day. Analysts have predicted that nearly 2 billion DLNA-certified products will be available worldwide by 2014, and according to recent ABI Research findings, 440 million DLNA-certified products had already been installed in users’ homes by the end of last year.

HM: Is the eventual end game of DLNA to be on every connected consumer electronics device in the market, and if so, how close is the group to realizing this?

Parikh: Consumers are connecting to a growing number of digital products every day, and as the demand for these products continues to increase, more freedom to use them will follow.

Not only are we seeing substantial growth in our overall number of DLNA-certified products, we’re also seeing an expansion of DLNA’s certification categories to include popular consumer electronics products such as tablet computers, photo frames, appliances and more. With a greater variety of DLNA-certified products and product categories now available, consumers have more options available to enjoy their digital content throughout their home, without boundaries.

Participation from service providers and cable operators will also be key to the success of the Alliance moving forward. DLNA Promoter Members, including a number of companies representing this important industry, are actively leading our more than 200 member companies that support networked interoperability among DLNA-certified devices in and beyond the home.

HM: What progress has DLNA made updating products that launched without DLNA?

Parikh: As I mentioned previously, we are now certifying software and are pleased that the first DLNA-certified software applications are available to consumers. Using software applications that have been certified by DLNA, consumers can confidently integrate electronic equipment that is not DLNA-certified into their personal, connected home environment, giving them greater control over their digital ecosystem. This allows them to bring content such as their photos, video and music stored on DLNA-certified products to a larger assortment of consumer electronics, mobile and PC products.

HM: Where is DLNA, in terms of sharing 1080p video between devices, and what challenges exist in regards to streaming high-def content using DLNA, especially when it comes to mobile devices?

Parikh: DLNA currently has media format profiles that include 1080p resolution. There are no particular challenges to DLNA for higher resolutions. Our server guidelines provide the technical details about available resolutions so DLNA clients can choose what they want to view. Some mobile devices cannot decode higher resolutions such as 1080p, so they select a lower resolution. Transcoding in a DLNA server allows multiple resolutions for multiple screen sizes.

HM: There are some notable companies missing from DLNA, including Apple. For those companies that have yet to sign on with DLNA, what would you say to them to urge them to join the other 200-plus members who’ve signed on?

Parikh: More than 200 multi-industry companies from around the world have already joined the Alliance. We remain focused on uniting companies behind a set of common goals to deliver manufacturer independent, standards-based, DLNA-certified products that allow consumers to pass digital content across their home network. We continue to add members on an ongoing basis and are open to speaking with all companies that are interested in joining DLNA.

HM: When content is shared between two DLNA-certified devices, how has DLNA addressed privacy concerns for the consumer and piracy concerns for content owners? What about commercial video?

Parikh: In order for commercial digital content to be made available for use with DLNA products, content must be protected from unauthorized copying and use.

Our recently announced DLNA Protected Streaming Certification program leverages Digital Transmission Content Protection over Internet Protocol, or DTCP-IP, to securely share commercial movies between devices in a consumer’s home network. As with other DLNA functionality, DTCP-IP is automatically negotiated between DLNA-certified Protected Streaming products and has been designed to protect premium content as it moves across the wireless local home network.

Under this specification, digital content can be shared securely between products in a user’s home but not shared with third parties outside the home network. We believe that this will open the door for content and service providers to develop innovative and creative content to appeal to a wider range of audiences.

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