News Release

Sun Microsystems, GTE and Cisco Systems Create "Connected Familyc" Internet-Enabled Products and Technologies

Jointly-Developed Connected Family Environment Showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show
Jan 06, 2000

Jan. 6, 2000 - Helping consumers realize the power and convenience of networked homes, Sun Microsystems, Inc., GTE and Cisco Systems Inc. agreed to collaborate on developing the "Connected FamilySM" environment, Internet-enabled products and services in the home. The companies will showcase the "Connected Family" environment in Sun's .com Home (Room N242, 2nd level, Las Vegas Convention Center) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Jan. 6-9, 2000, and will conduct field trials this summer.

The Connected Family environment makes it easier for families to manage daily life, secure their homes, and stay in touch with family members. Using GTE's always-on digital subscriber line Internet access, Sun's Java and Jini technologies, and Cisco's Internet Home Gateway technology, Connected Family brings Internet connectivity to home appliances and devices, thereby streamlining household management tasks.

Connected Family Capabilities include:

  • Calendar Management through a central database from home, work, or on the road
  • List Management via a flat panel display using interactive voice response or a bar code reader
  • Home System Alerting via wireless telephone, LCD panel, a TV pop-up screen, or intercom
  • Remote Home System Management via wireless telephone, two-way pager, or the Internet
  • Remote Video Surveillance, which can be linked to a security system
  • Information Retrieval for updates on weather and news or entertainment
  • Telephony for flexible configuration of messaging and greeting functions
  • Video Conferencing for instant high-quality video and audio connectivity
  • Entertainment through integrated VCR, DVD, TV, and stereo controllers and clocks, electronic program guides, streaming audio, and movie previews
  • Messaging including voice, e-mail, video, and fax via personal mailboxes
  • E-commerce for automatic registration, timely maintenance, feature updates, and software downloads

Connected Family at CES: A Walk Through the Future

When guests enter the Connected Family environment at CES, they will be stepping into a world of interactivity and connectivity.

For example, in the kitchen, visitors can use a display panel to download recipes from their favorite culinary Web site and insert the recipe ingredients into a shopping list. They can then either use that shopping list to order products from an online grocer or download the list to a hand-held or mobile device to carry to the store. Visitors can also access a customized kitchen portal on the same display panel that is connected to appliances in the room.

In addition, a visitor can use the display panel coupled with Sun's Jini connection technology to activate an appliance, like a coffeepot, to customize settings and brew coffee. A visitor can even download new features and functions, such as new brew settings, using Cisco's Internet Home Gateway technology integrated into the coffeepot.

Other networked devices and services using Java and Jini technologies in the Connected Family environment at CES include interactive dishwashers, televisions, screen phones, printers, bar code scanners and security devices, as well as a number of related offerings, from appliance and software vendors such as Qubit, Bosch Siemens, Whirlpool, Axis, Echelon, Nokia, Weight Watchers, Sundberg-Ferrar, Oracle, Sharp and Streamline.

The concept for the Connected Family services emerged from the GTE Technology Organization, GTE's dedicated technology unit focusing on research and development in advanced network applications and technologies and converged telecommunications.

"Connected Family represents an innovative approach to significantly enhancing the convenience of everyday household tasks by integrating broadband technology with home-based services," said Tom Muldoon, president, GTE Technology Organization. "This technology architecture extends the use of telephony and the Internet to deliver services such as electronic shopping lists, family calendars and schedules directly to home appliances."

According to Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer, Sun Microsystems, Inc., "The Connected Family is a great example of how Sun is working with industry leading companies, such as GTE and Cisco, to bring affordable, easy-to-use Internet connected services to the home, and allowing consumers to take advantage of the '.com' phenomena. The service-driven network, as seen in this project, is destined to improve the quality of life of consumers worldwide by simplifying access to a variety of devices and a host of information, communication and services."

Cisco's Internet Home Gateway technology and Internet infrastructure builds on the company's vision of providing high-speed Internet access and data, voice and video services to the home. "Together, Cisco, GTE and Sun are creating a truly networked home by building the first end-to-end home networking solution for service providers that will enable consumers to receive high-speed Internet access and services in their home," said Don Listwin, Cisco executive vice president, consumer and service provider lines of business. "By making it easy for multiple devices in the home to connect to the Internet and with each other via Cisco's home networking technology, consumers will enjoy a richer Internet experience at home."

Bringing the Connected Home to Market

Sun, GTE and Cisco will be soliciting comments and feedback from appliance, consumer electronics, office product and wireless manufacturers, and interested third-party vendors, as well as solution and content providers, on Connected Family this quarter.

The Cisco Internet Home Gateway series uses DSL technology to provide consumers with high-speed Internet access and the ability to connect several computers, phones, printers, faxes and other Internet-ready devices in their home using existing home phone lines. In addition, the Internet Home Gateway will also give consumers the flexibility to monitor their home while at work, set Internet usage guidelines for their children, enjoy video-on-demand or download music from the Internet to multiple devices in their home.