Philips and Ucentric join to provide digital home entertainment solutions

Tyler Hung,Special to The China Post

Philips’ semiconductors division and Ucentric Systems have forged an alliance to develop products and applications for digital entertainment. Ucentric’s media distribution software and suite of digital entertainment applications will be combined with Philips’ Nexperia Home Entertainment Engine (HEE) system-on-chip package. This alliance will allow equipment manufacturers to help service providers leverage a highly cost-effective set-top box design to generate new revenue streams from distributing digital entertainment services on-demand throughout the home. Consumer demand for digital entertainment services and devices throughout the home is on the rise as well. According to Cahners In-Stat Group/MDR, worldwide unit shipments of cable set-top boxes are forecasted to rise from 18 million in 2000 to over 25 million in 2005, a great opportunity for manufacturers. A survey in September 2001 by NextResearch of Personal Video Recorder (PVR) owners indicates that more than 60 percent want the same functionality on every TV in their home. The technology is available now to deliver these “whole-home” applications at price points that make distributed digital home entertainment possible and practical for both service providers and consumers. The set-top box will be the hub for distribution of all the digital entertainment in homes. Service providers have the opportunity now to penetrate households further and maximize revenue by providing additional content and services. Philips’ HEE, using the Nexperia architecture, is a practical and cost-effective silicon system solution, which is ideal for service providers of next-generation set-top boxes.

The companies will work to combine Ucentric’s innovative software which features a client/server architecture and a suite of digital home entertainment applications, onto Philips’ Nexperia HEE pnx8525, the PVR solution designed for use in advanced set-top boxes, digital consumer boxes and network applications. The joint design enables a single set-top box to store and distribute digital entertainment content and services to multiple television sets, stereos and computers throughout the home.

In addition to delivering existing digital TV services, Ucentric provides an affordable digital home entertainment solution that includes multi-TV PVR, a multi-speaker digital jukebox and wired and wireless shared Internet access. “Ucentric focuses on offering cable service providers cost-effective software solutions for delivering on-demand entertainment services to their subscribers,” said Sergio Parise, Vice President of Engineering, Ucentric. “That’s why it’s important for us to work with innovative silicon suppliers and port our software to the right platforms, such as Philips’ Nexperia HEE, for our cable service provider partners.” “Together we are addressing the increasing demand for networked applications in the home environment. Philips, with Ucentric’s software, can offer service providers the ability to run networked applications on a real consumer product and thus, the opportunity to generate new revenue streams,” said Mark Samuel, Set-top Box Marketing Director, the semiconductor division of Philips. “The media distribution software platform based on the Nexperia HEE will revolutionize the connected home by enabling affordable distribution of audio, video and data throughout the house.”