Korean wireless provider SK Telecom (SKT) calls it N-Screen hoppin. The service allows subscribers to port media content from Smartphones to TVs to Tablets with the touch of a button. According to the Korean Herald, subscribers with its new Samsung Galaxy S phone can get the "hoppin" service to allow "N-screen" functionality (n-screen is short for numerous screen). Content is not stored on a home server, but is streamed from the "SKT cloud" (for a one-time service fee).
By turning the Samsung smartphone into a portable set-top-box (STB) for your home TV, SKT is kind of getting into the content aggregation business. But, the real breakthrough in just how this connectivity is achieved — Wi-Fi.
If you were at CES earlier this month one key trend seen at most major CE booths was content portability—the any content on any display mantra we’ve been discussing in the industry for years. At the show, we had a conversation with Justin Yun, an LG Electronics Ph.D. and senior research engineer from the wireless LAN software and 4G development lab. Justin did his doctoral thesis on Wi-Fi and is just the guy to explain how the technology is be leveraged to achieve the robust portability of content.
The secret sauce is in creating an "ad-hoc" like connection between devices (your TV and Smartphone for instance) via Wi-Fi. And the new name for this old idea is Wi-Fi Direct. Truth be told, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the new technology back in October of 2010 (press release). But the full scope of just what they had done to the old reliable home wireless backbone didn’t hit home until CES, and the plethora of devices suddenly empowered with content through these ad-hoc (err… Wi-Fi Direct) networks.
Yun told us that 802.11n chipsets can be upgraded with firmware to support Wi-Fi direct. Moreover, legacy devices are supported too, says the Wi-Fi Alliance. "…interoperability between devices certified under the Wi-Fi Direct program and legacy devices is a key element of the underlying specification, so even non-upgraded devices can join," the group said in an on-line fact sheet.
Yun also said the upgraded Wi-Fi direct allows two devices to pair or sync, much like Bluetooth, and connect at a rate of 35Mbps, virtually eliminating any latency between devices.
In a demo in the LGE booth, Yun showed LG’s new Black Optimus phone connected to the TV streaming DLNA content via Wi-Fi Direct—with no access point, rather a simple ad-hoc connection between the two devices.
Later, over at the Samsung booth, we talked to SmartTV rep, J.C. Shetterley. He showed an impressive demo where a Samsung flat screen TV was connected to a tablet, via Wi-Fi Direct. In the demo, the tablet displayed the full programming guide directly from the TV while a Blu-ray disc was playing on the big screen. "So a tablet user, can connect and use the TV’s on-board digital tuner to channel surf, all while the BRD continues to play on the main TV screen," explained Shetterley.
As Insight Media analyst Aldo Cugnini pointed out in yesterday’s DD, 4G wireless delivery of video content is probably still a way’s off. But with Wi-Fi Direct and its legacy support, it looks like the content barrier has finally been broken in the home network, allowing images, video and the rest are due to make the jump from the small display to the large one, and back again…
Ed. Note: a see the full story on enabling content at CES in the upcoming Large Display Report