Does the World Need Another DIVA?

A group of Chinese companies announced the creation of a new consortium last week, with the goal of creating and promoting a new interface for consumer electronics products. They call it the Digital Interface for Video and Audio, which results in the unfortunate acronym, DIVA. Backing this new move are some major and influential companies, most of which you probably have never heard of, including Sichuan Chang Hong Electric Co.; Qingdao Haier Co.; Hisense Electric Co.; Konka Group; Nanjing Panda Electronics Co.; Skyworth Group; SVA Information Industry Co.; TCL Corporation; and Synerchip Co., Ltd. Even if you have never seen these names before, you undoubtedly have seen televisions, computer monitors, and other devices that these companies have built to be sold under some very famous brands.

The new interface will transmit uncompressed digital audio and video signals. It will also support high-speed bidirectional data connections, which is an essential requirement for interactive television and accessing content on the Internet. It will also make it possible to control multiple consumer electronics components with a single remote control, as well as connect to content — music, photos, and video — stored on digital appliances on a home network.

The group plans to demonstrate DIVA at a conference in China on May 21, and plans on publishing the final specification before the end of 2008.

So why do we need a connection in addition to HDMI? The computer folks are trying to get away from HDMI with their new DisplayPort digital connection, but that has met with only limited success so far. I suspect that motivation behind DIVA is similar to the driving force behind DisplayPort: licensing fees. Anyone using HDMI has to pay royalties to use the technology. And if the Chinese hate to do anything, it’s pay royalties for technology. So I would not be at all surprised to find that the DIVA movement could result in lower fees for consumer electronics manufacturers.

And why should DIVA succeed where others have failed? Again, the consortium includes a Who’s Who of Chinese consumer electronics manufacturers, and they are responsible for building a huge portion of the consumer electronics products sold worldwide. If they all get behind the use of a specific interface, they may well have the clout to make it stick. And having a digital interface that truly handles audio, video, and data on a single cable could definitely simplify the setup and user interface for complex configurations of home entertainment devices and networks.

This DIVA bears watching.