IBM, National Semiconductor look to connect homes

IBM Corp. and National Semiconductor Corp. are teaming to simplify development of home gateways, devices meant to connect common household appliances in the home to the Internet, IBM said Tuesday.

The companies have created what they call “a complete development platform for home gateways.” The platform, which should be generally available in August, consists of WebSphere embedded middleware from IBM and National Semiconductor’s Internet appliance hardware, which includes the Geode processor, IBM said in a news release.

Home gateways are the central part of a futuristic vision in which devices ranging from air conditioners, entertainment systems and coffee makers are connected to the Internet. This will allow, among other things, remote management of those devices.

Manufacturers of home gateways will need to bring a variety of products to market to cater to different types of homeowners, IBM said. The IBM and National Semi platform will allow manufacturers of home gateways to reduce their gateway and application development time, according to IBM.

Two Asian companies have already signed on to use the platform; China’s white goods manufacturer Shanghai General Electronics Group Co. Ltd. (CSGEG) and Taiwanese technology company C.P. Technology Co. Ltd., IBM said. CSGEG plans to use the technology to build applications that can remotely monitor and control connected appliances, while C.P. Technology intends to use the platform to power its new home gateway.

IBM and National Semi face some tough competition on the home gateway market. Cisco Systems Inc. early last year announced its “Internet Home Gateway,” in October 1999 L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. partnered with appliance maker Electrolux AB to create a networked home with the kitchen as the central hub.

IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., can be reached at National Semiconductor, in Santa Clara, Calif., can be reached at