Cisco Goes iHome

Besides the iHOME' - a house in Lend Lease's Sydney development at Jacksons Landing fitted out with "internet-enabled household technologies" - a development centre will also be built in North Sydney to give Australian developers the opportunity to showcase their products in a simulated home environment.

The iHOME is scheduled to go live in November, while Cisco aims to have the development centre open sometime between January and March next year.

"This is a growth market and we want to be involved from the ground up," Ron Cutler, project director at Lend Lease, said.

For Cisco, meanwhile, anything that spells a build-out of the internet could mean more switch and router sales. Others involved include Crestron, Soundcorp, Len Wallis Audio and Clipsal Integrated systems.

According to Kip Cole, marketing director at Cisco, Australia is moving too slowly when it comes to realising how the Internet can improve the way we live.

"Research by the Yankee Group predicts that by 2005 half of Australian households will have broadband access," Cole said. "That's too slow when you look at what's happening in countries like the US, where they're rolling it out like wildfire, and Korea, which has just started a project to roll out 2 million lines."

Cole argues that one of the major factors behind the slow take-up of broadband - besides the high price of current offerings like cable modem and DSL - is that "nobody knows how it will affect the way we live".

And, while the ability to control appliances via the internet has garnered the most attention, it will be community services that will have the most impact on peoples lives, for example booking services online from your local government, he said.

Besides aiming to help in this area by highlighting some of the ways an internet-enabled home could work, the iHOME will also allow service providers like electricians and appliance developers form a blueprint for taking the concept to the mass market.

There's also the reliability issues to sort out. "You don't want a Windows blue screen to lock you out or turn out all the lights," Cole said.

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Deanne McIntosh

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