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for maximum flexibility by adding or replacing adapters. With on-board processors and memory, the MPEG adapter might be controlled by an operating system designed for TV set-top boxes or game boxes, while other utility box functions might be controlled by a different operating system.

  • In the PC evolution, for example, as certain technologies became pervasive standards, they moved from multiple adapters to single, multi-function adapters, and then from adapters to built-in functions. These included serial/parallel/ mouse ports, graphics controllers, and memory. Other components, such as math coprocessors and cache even moved into microprocessor chips. A similar trend is likely to happen with microprocessor-based utility boxes, suggesting a need for flexibility in the placement of (and use of) intelligence.

  • Consumers will want direct, individual access to information delivered to the home, and will want to use a variety of devices to process that information, including game boxes, TV set-top boxes and PCs. Their PC personal agents will be able to collect relevant information, provide universal mailbox functions (voice, fax, e-mail), and produce customized news (paper & video), video programming, and references for shopping, financial and health management, along with other applications. Consumer-controlled devices will also offer interface improvements such as voice navigation and dictation using natural language terms and translating into national languages in real-time.

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