Marvell Shows Us the Connected Home of the Future

Marvell just launched its Avanta line, which could enable a whopping 10-gigabit network – or about 100 times what most folks now have. This is enough bandwidth for near-virtual-reality video gaming, HD video conferencing, at least four HD video feeds, and a good HD 3D video feed at the same time, with room to spare. Now that would be change I could believe in.

Some of the toys showcased at Marvell’s launch event for Avanta really caught my eye. Let’s take a closer look at a few.

Avanta Home Networks

Avanta is technology that will go in other components that blends processing power with networking to create a 10-gigabit network. The advantage is being able to move large amounts of data very quickly. Say you want to put a HD movie on your iPad (assuming your iPad supported the technology), you’d do it in seconds rather than minutes or hours. Marvell demonstrated four HD streams, an HD two-way video conference, head-to-head lag-free HD gaming, and 3D movie viewing simultaneously. This is the potential of this century’s digital home.

I got a chance to chat with Stan Lee at the event, and his biggest problem was he kept asking people to sell him Avanta and, because it is a part and not available yet, he couldn’t buy it. I, on the other hand, had trouble thinking of anything else other than “OMG I’m talking to Stan Lee.” Let’s just say it wasn’t one of my more brilliant conversations and leave it at that.

HD Video Conferencing for the Home

Typically, when you see a business-oriented video conferencing system, you are sitting behind a desk, or at a conference table, looking at a widescreen HD TV horizontally at a bunch of other folks looking at you in the same way. Marvell flipped a big TV into portrait format, so you could walk up and talk to the remote person much as if you were standing in front of them. I found it vastly more natural, and interesting.

Looking at a bunch of floating heads has never seemed all that realistic to me, and I could imagine having a meeting with a lot of TVs, each with one person in them, being far more interesting and natural for some kinds of discussions. In any case, for kids that are remote talking to parents, or for more social kinds of events, this vertical placement was actually fascinating, and the low-latency result is something that would typically cost you $400K to buy, with a $15K per month service charge. Marvell was imagining this on your network in your home.

Inexpensive 3D Glasses Come to the Home

One of the most compelling demonstrations at the show was by 3ality Digital, a firm that helps create 3D content (mostly sports) for TV. The result was stunning, but what was particularly interesting was that the professional grade JVC TV they were using didn’t require active-shutter glasses, and instead used the same glasses you would use to see a 3D movie in a theater. I’d been told that the reason most of the TV industry had gone to the vastly more expensive (like $150 a pair) active-shutter glasses was that polarized glasses didn’t work. Well, they worked fine on this set. I’d listened to Katzenberg over at DreamWorks a few weeks ago, and he’d indicated that 3D likely wouldn’t take off in homes until the active-shutter glasses went away. While this solution isn’t without glasses yet, I can see buying 10 pairs of $2 polarized glasses for a Super Bowl party long before I can see buying 10 pairs of $150 glasses for $1,500 for that same party. This was the first 3D flat screen set that I’d actually consider buying.

By the way, I bought my own high-end pair of MacroVision glasses for movies, and they really make the 3D films look better, since they are polarized dark glasses, and I can wear them into and out of the theater. They come in designer frames, and you can find them here.

Media Management

Media management, whether it was managing vinyl, CDs, or digital files, has been a problem. This problem is even more pronounced with the proliferation of digital multimedia content. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of media files you might enjoy that you either already own, or are free that you will never find, or find again. One of the interesting products at the show was an iPhone offering from Eyecon Technologies which allowed you to find and manage this content from the comfort of your couch, and not on the TV screen itself. You could then transfer the content to any compliant connected device. It’s worth checking out, and applications like this are really transforming the iPhone and iPod touch into a true universal remote.

Wrapping Up

Perhaps the most interesting part of the event was a discussion by game designer Robin Hunicke. She imagined a future that game designers wanted to create where something as simple as holding your mate’s hand and walking through an amazing Avatar-like virtual world was possible. She said she had the tools, she simply needed the bandwidth. Because if you could do that one simple thing, you could make virtual reality real, and forever blur the lines between what is and what we can imagine.

I’m looking forward to that day with something like Avanta and game developers like Robin and the imagination of folks like Stan Lee that might make it possible.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

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