UPnP Forum wants TVs to make you Healthier

UPnP logoStaying Well Connected: UPnP Forum Targets Health and Fitness Networking

It’s True — TV Can Now Make You Healthier and May Lower Your Energy-Bills

BEAVERTON, OR–(Marketwire – Nov 15, 2011) – Leading global home networking standards group, UPnP Forum, has announced the formation of an E-Health and Sensors (EHS) Working Committee. The new body intends to address consumer-electronic (CE) industry opportunities in the areas of home personal health and wellness, as well as the increasing availability of sensor applications to monitor and control devices within the home.

Networked devices in the home have the potential to play a key role in the CE health market, creating convenient, easy and appealing ways to measure and enhance lifestyle and fitness activities. The convergence of home network connected technologies, commonly included in HDTVs and Smartphone(s), with a new generation of Personal Health Devices (PHDs) and Home Automation (HA) devices are anticipated to provide compelling opportunities for CE manufacturers. Extending traditional consumer electronic devices to support Personal Health and/or Home Automation applications is anticipated to enhance the well being of consumers as well as allowing consumer electronics OEMs to increase the value-add of their offerings.

“Existing UPnP standards provide low-latency control and high-bandwidth data transport between home devices,” said Russell Berkoff, UPnP E-Health and Sensors Working Committee Chair. “With the EHS Working Committee we intend to combine the strengths of UPnP Home Networking standards with Continua Alliance compliant PHDs as well as enhance UPnP compatibility with current low-power networking technologies. This will support the development of devices providing real-time and historical processing of home energy usage and personal health data for display on existing home network AV devices.”

To give an example, the new standards can enable the selection of an exercise program on a UPnP compliant E-Health controller, which then monitors Personal Health Devices providing the pulse rate and calories used by the person exercising. The E-Health controller can then also command the exercise device to adjust the workout intensities as well as display a synchronized video, such as progress on a running course, through a HDTV device. Furthermore, a home network mobile device can be used to request the E-Health controller to display fitness data including real-time pulse rate and calories burned on the HDTV device or Smartphone.

Another example involves fitness data collected outside the home, such as workout results from a fitness center or outdoor run. When the user returns home, this E-Health data can be automatically uploaded to an UPnP compliant E-Health device. The UPnP E-Health device may also share this data with other UPnP E-Health devices in the home. These devices can then provide fitness data summaries in graphical formats displayed on UPnP connected HDTVs or other mobile devices supporting UPnP networking.

Sensor networks can potentially play a variety of important roles within the home, including appliance management, home automation and security as well as energy usage monitoring and management. Various non-UPnP based sensor network standards and solutions have been deployed over time to address the needs of home automation and appliance ecosystems which rely on low-speed battery powered sensors.

The EHS working committee intends to develop standards to simplify UPnP access to devices residing on non-UPnP sensor networks. This work will involve coordinated activities in other UPnP working committees to provide complete end-to-end home automation and energy management solutions.

Russell Berkoff added: “The EHS Working Committee also intends to investigate the social and competitive aspects of fitness and well being by allowing UPnP E-Health devices in separate home networks to share E-Health data, possibly in a fully interactive manner. An example would be the ability for UPnP E-Health devices in separate home networks to coordinate a workout or competitive weight loss program between consumers.”

Working with various other UPnP Forum committees, the first preliminary UPnP EHS Working Committee deliverables could be released in the second half of 2012.

About UPnP Forum

UPnP Forum, established in 1999, is a global industry group of 950-plus leading companies and organizations working to enable device-to-device interoperability and facilitate easier and better home networking. It promotes the adoption of uniform technical device interconnectivity standards and certifies devices conforming to these standards. UPnP Forum is an impartial group enabling member companies to participate and develop extensions to (a) the UPnP Device Architecture, which defines how to use IP to communicate between devices, and (b) Device Control Protocols (DCPs), which are services between devices. Members of UPnP Forum include market leaders in computing, printing and networking, consumer electronics, home appliances, automation, control and security, and mobile products.

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mHealthTalk perspective

I welcome efforts to connect personal health devices, consumer electronics, and home networks but caution that added complexity will likely take many years to develop. Early UPnP specifications aren’t due to developers until at least 2H 2012, and the first compliant products won’t likely hit the market until a year later. Even then, it can take a long time for new products to reach mainstream adoption. I’ve seen the Home Automation industry struggle for 40 years to expand out of its niche of high-end, custom new homes with professional installation by system integrators. That’s because the task of interfacing between different subsystems (lighting, security, HVAC, appliances, entertainment, home data networks, and now health devices) is complex. Developers in each subsystem market have their own agendas and often adopt different communication standards. Getting to adopt UPnP won’t be easy. 
.          — Wayne Caswell, mHealthTalk founder

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