Want a glimpse of the consumer appliance market of the future?

In a bold bid to snatch the initiative in web technology from the USA, Japan’s Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications will from 2005 assign a dedicated 5GHz national radio frequency exclusively for wireless appliances.

In a market where blockbuster applications debut daily only to die of old age the day after, the next Big Bang in the IT field is seen as home networking – an environment in which internet-enabled home appliances communicate with each other via wireless links.

Here’s how it works. Networked home appliances are linked to a server – either a separate unit or integrated with an appliance such as a TV set. This acts as the core of the household computer network.

The technology assumes an always-on connectivity. For example, a would-be intruder trying to pick a door lock – or a dishwasher flooding – would trigger an automatic message, via the server, to the homeowner's cellphone.

With a unity of purpose only dreamed of in the western world, Japan’s electronic industry and government have already agreed a single standard for home networking gizmos. It will take effect in 2007 and aims to leapfrog the existing Microsoft-sponsored standard for linking devices to the internet.

Commandeering the required radio frequency is the first step. Explained telecoms minister Toranosuke Katayama: “In ten years, wireless local area network and internet-capable appliances will need a frequency range about four to five times larger than they use now.”

Providing this facility ahead of the competition will, Katayama believes, enable swift and efficient development of operating system software and semiconductor components, paving the way for a wave of wireless appliances.

Data sourced from: The Asahi Shimbun (Japan); additional content by WARC staff