Cisco's iHome is its iCastle

The home networking market has been touted by many as one of the last frontiers for integrators to get into, and while everyone has heard of the Internet fridge and the smart toaster, Cisco has teamed up with a host of other vendors to unveil its first fully networked house.

Dubbed the iHome, Cisco is out to drum up as much end-user demand as it can and in the process force the issue for consumers to adopt broadband Internet access.

"Today is about building demand for the iHome industry," said Terry Walsh, Cisco Australia's managing director, at a press conference held today in Sydney's inner suburb of Pyrmont, where the house is located.

The iHome features a host of connectivity devices to network a household's security, shopping, entertainment and home office needs. Everything that can be controlled is controlled through an iHome Web portal that enables users to open and close blinds, download movies/videos over the Web, order weekly shopping, see who's at the front door while they're at work or simply time the kettle to boil before they wake up, the company claims. The iHome portal can then be accessed from any Internet enabled PDA, PC or WAP device.

While Walsh said every piece of the technology used in this iHome is currently available, he did concede it was out of the reach of most "average Australians". The other inhibiting factor noted by Walsh is the expense and lack of broadband Internet access to the consumer market.

Cisco in the meantime has been busy signing alliances and forging relationships with Australia's growing list of telcos on the eve of what Walsh is tipping as a "substantial" increase in Broadband adoption.

Kip Cole, Cisco's marketing director, claims the good news for the channel is there is a range of technologies a service provider must integrate, "and this is not, in any way shape or form, Cisco's market".

The home networking market also sparks a number of opportunities for non-traditional channels to emerge, such as home security and or power companies moving into the integration of Web-enabled IT products and services.

Building the house was construction giant Bovis Lend Lease, with AAPT, Clipsal, Copper Development Centre, Compaq, Sony, Creston Control Systems, Len Wallis Audio, Inner Range, the NSW Government, Panduit Network Connectivity Group, Polycom, ReQuest Multimedia, Silent Gliss, Whirlpool Australia and Sunbeam, all chiming in with their respective technologies and investments.

And in case you were wondering, yes Cisco's iHome has a Whirlpool Internet fridge. It is the only one in Australia and one of 10 in the world, Cole told ARN.

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