HAVi ( Home Audio Visual ) is a standard, developed by several leading electronics and computer manufacturers, that allows a number of different home-entertainment and communication devices to operate from a single controller device such as your TV set. The specification uses IEEE 1394 ( FireWire or i.LINK ) as the interconnection medium.
With a HAVi-based system, users of home appliances will be able to add new devices without going through complicated installation processes or wading through arcane instruction manuals or help files. Personal computers may be part of a HAVi-based home system, but it will not be necessary for such a system to function.
Here are some examples of how a HAVi system might work:
- You are watching a show on television, and a phone call comes in. You have programmed the television set to automatically mute, so you can carry on the phone conversation without distraction. If you wish, you can carry on the conversation in video-phone mode, and use the television screen as the display.
- Someone rings the buzzer at your front door. You walk over to a wall-based video intercom unit that is playing the five o'clock television news. The screen is switched to a video camera located over the front door so you can see who is there. The audio switches from the television show to a two-way link with the front door.
- You are watching an educational television show, and a scientist uses a word that you do not recognize. You speak the word into a microphone, and an Internet-based dictionary, complete with speech recognition, looks the word up and displays the meaning(s) in the corner of the screen or announces the definition(s) in a synthesized voice.
The HAVi specification will be easy to upgrade. As is the case with popular Web browser s today, updates will be available for downloading from the Internet. You might even program the system to automatically download the updates as they become available.
HAVi will be operational across devices from all participating manufacturers. Users will be able to choose their own favorite hardware brands. The video disk recorder (VDR), television set, telephone, home video intercom system, computer (if wanted), and telephone set (with or without video) might all be manufactured by different companies, but they will function seamlessly in the HAVi-based network. When a new device, such as a printer/scanner/fax machine, is installed, the system will configure itself to accommodate it.
Somewhat similar standards for interconnecting devices include Home API (HAPI), Jini , Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi), Universal PlugnPlay, and Vesa Home Network. HAVi and Vesa are specifically aimed at the home entertainment environment. The other standards are aimed at remote interconnection and make use of Internet protocols.