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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
Digital living takes off in Asia
By Peter Feuilherade
BBC Monitoring, Singapore

A digital family at home
Digital homes allows users to share media between different devices
Asian countries lead the world in creating digital homes, with Taiwan and Korea at the forefront, says a study.

The research, carried out by US market research firm Parks Associates, looked at digital living trends in 13 markets in Asia, Europe and North America.

The findings were announced at the annual Broadcast Asia trade show, held in Singapore.

Between 600 and 1,400 households in each country took part in the survey of consumer habits in the wired world.

Consumer demand

One of the main themes of the survey is the "digital living index".

This examines the availability, adoption, and use of technology-driven products and services in each individual country.

Asian tech giants Taiwan and Korea came first and second in the index, followed by the US, Canada, Japan, and Australia.

Five European countries - the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy - came in sixth to eleventh place, with China and India in the last two spots.

All the connectivity on the PC front is coming from Taiwan and the US
Emmanuel Dieppedalle, Philips.

Despite the low ranking of China and India, they still have large digital markets in key urban areas because of their high populations, the survey noted.

Within Asia, individual countries are developing distinct areas of leadership in driving the digital trend, the survey found.

For example, Korea was ahead in computer gaming and Japan in video gaming and mobile phone use.

Consumers in Hong Kong are forging ahead with IPTV take-up, while Taiwan leads the world in home networking.

This huge uptake of digital technology in Asia over Europe and North America, is for a number of reasons believes John Barrett of Parks Associates.

He says that at least one major difference between the two markets is the wider availability of content and deeper broadband penetration in the Asian countries.

This meant that Asians were more likely to use computers as entertainment platforms, he said.

Digital lifestyle

This convergence of technology has spawned a whole range of digital lifestyle applications, many of which were on display at the Broadcast Asia show in Singapore.

As well as the usual audio and video technology, other personalized services included mobile phone company Ericsson's video dating service, allowing users to record personal video messages to send to new acquaintances.

Couple cook in a digital kitchen
Time shifting and place shifting sum up the connected home of tomorrow
Emmanuel Dieppedalle, Philips.

Other developments include MyHeart by Philips Research Laboratories, to monitor the user's health using intelligent biomedical clothes; Xovulation, a mobile family planning tool; and XFinance, a mobile financial management application.

Speakers at the conference outlined a vision of the digital home as being more than just an environment where all devices were interconnected and all media distributed digitally.

The ability to customise the user interface and share content was essential. The key concepts were simplicity, personalisation and convergence.

The three main hubs of connectivity are the PC, the mobile phone and consumer items including MP3 and DVD players, speakers noted.

The challenge was to interconnect these and bring in simplified and personalised services including digital music, gaming, educational tools, photos with slide shows, live TV and video on demand.

"Time shifting and place shifting sum up the connected home of tomorrow," said Emmanuel Dieppedalle, regional marketing director of Philips.

He added: "All the innovation is coming from Japan and Korea on the consumer products side, whereas all the connectivity on the PC front is coming from Taiwan and the US.

"The real digital home experience phenomenon will emerge when we combine the best of both worlds," he said.

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