What is DLNA?

M. McGee
M. McGee
Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a collection of companies that are working towards a single integrated home network. Founded in 2003 under the name Digital Home Working Group, the alliance organizes specifications for home electronics. These specifications allow for communication between devices such as TVs, computers and gaming consoles. The overall goal for the alliance is to create an environment where all home electronics are connected through a single home intranet. This would allow for most connected devices to run through a single computer interface, share a single networked storage point and be available anywhere in the house.

The DLNA is made up of many of the the world's biggest computer and technology companies. They have a governing board consisting of nine companies from all over the industry, such as AwoX, Broadcom and Intel. Along with their governing members, there are over a dozen promoter members that also have influence in the direction of the alliance. There are also more than 100 smaller members that work in a support or advisory capacity.

Since their inception, the DLNA has been at the forefront in the fight for open standards and protocols. Many of their specification updates have focused on open protocols and the removal of proprietary formats. Many of these specification updates also include a new form of service or technology, expanding the areas that the DLNA protocols cover. With the late introduction of a general mobile device category, the alliance is hoping to make standard protocols for items as diverse as MP3 players, video cameras and mobile computers.

The DLNA has addressed that the open standards they advocate could also cause an increase in piracy. The specifications usually contain a series of digital rights management protocols along with the general integration updates. These safeguards prevent the coping, or distribution, of protected media over DLNA devices. When things work as intended, the content will only play on a single device. The content can also be streamed to multiple places, but never moved from its original device.

At the 2010 Customer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the DLNA announced a software certification program. This program would allow specific pieces of software to receive a DLNA certification similar to the one put on hardware. Certified software would allow open transferal of information, particularly media such as music or videos, through open and non-proprietary formats and protocols.

Essentially, this would mean a person could watch the same video on items as diverse as their TV, gaming console, or computer through a single program. This was a major step for the company, as they had not specifically endorsed software previous to this. Before this announcement, anything labeled DLNA software was simply known to work with other certified products.

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      Woman doing a handstand with a computer