Philips and Samsung agree on consumer electronics API

Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. have agreed on a software standard for consumer electronics devices that they hope will be adopted by others and promote the creation of applications for their products.

The new Universal Home Application Programming Interface (UH-API) is designed to make it easier for software makers, system integrators and device vendors to create products that work with consumer electronics devices such as televisions, set-top boxes, DVD players and recorders and personal video recorders, Philips and Samsung said in a statement Tuesday.

The semiconductor units of Philips and Samsung will establish, maintain and promote the UH-API initiative, but the Dutch and South Korean companies are inviting others to join so every new product that comes to market supports UH-API, according to the statement.

Philips and Samsung are among the world's largest consumer electronics companies, others include Sony Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (better known as Panasonic) and LG Electronics Inc. The consumer electronics industry is convening this week in Las Vegas at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Industry cooperation on UH-API will lead to greater interoperability of consumer electronics products and allow vendors to bring their products to market faster, Philips and Samsung said.

The advent of digital technology has led to increasing use of software to support advanced functions and features in consumer electronics. This includes video-on-demand, electronic programming guides, advanced recording features and shopping applications.

However, it has been difficult to develop applications for consumer electronics because there was no standard API (application programming interface) for developers to write to. Instead, developers had to write to the unique hardware requirements of every product being developed, Philips and Samsung said. The UH-API initiative is meant to provide a stable, hardware independent API, they said.

Philips and Samsung will both develop UH-API compliant chipsets and products. Drafts of the UH-API are expected to be available in the first quarter, the companies said.

One of the software makers in this space, Microsoft Corp., will announce at CES the latest version of its software platform for digital cable television services. The Microsoft TV Foundation Edition version 1.5 supports HDTV (high-definition television) and digital video recording and allows cable companies to better market new and existing services such as video on demand (VOD), Microsoft said Tuesday.

Microsoft also will detail Microsoft TV Best Bets, a new digital TV application for TV Foundation Edition 1.5 meant to help consumers more easily find VOD movies.

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