ELECTRONICS SHOW The next trend -- digital dialog

It's a tall order, but progress is being made, an engineer said.
LAS VEGAS -- The technology industry has a communication problem.
Consumer electronics makers have built digital machines that can play high-quality video, pristine audio and lifelike video games. But those devices aren't very good at talking to each other or to the Internet, executives said Thursday at the giant Consumer Electronics Show.
"Convergence has become something like the weather," said SBC Communications Inc. Chief Executive Ed Whitacre. "Everybody talks about it, but nobody does much about it."
Take a standard DVD player. It can send a movie to your television via a set of wires. But what if you want to play the same movie on another TV in your house? You have to move the DVD player and reconnect it. Not very efficient.
The technology industry wants to eliminate such hassles. "The next trend here is really to be able to remove those wires," Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett said in a speech.
But it isn't that easy.
Standards are needed
Device makers have to agree on standards for wireless technology so all their machines can use the same language to send data. And they have to convince Hollywood and the music industry that sending their products back and forth through the house doesn't threaten their lucrative copyrights.
It's a tall order, but progress is coming, said Ray Simar, a senior Texas Instruments Inc. engineer. Industry infighting and confusion are just part of life in the early stages of technology.
"It's never instantaneous," he said.

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