Media Streaming using UPnP

24 March 2007 One Comment

Media Streaming over UPnP

UPnP stands for Universal Plug n Play, and is quite an old standard now that was originally designed in 1999 to enable different devices to interconnect and to “simplify network implementation in the home and corporate environments[Source: UPnP Forum].

It’s a more complicated technology than Bluetooth, so you might need to concentrate for this bit!

UPnP benefits and applications

Just some of the benefits of UPnP include:

  • Media and device independence.
  • UPnP technology can run on any network technology including Wi-Fi, coax, phone line, power line, Ethernet and FireWire.
  • Platform independence.
  • Any operating system and any programming language can be used to build UPnP products.
  • Internet-based technologies.
  • UPnP technology is built upon IP, TCP, UDP, HTTP, and XML, among others.

[Source: [UPnP Forum]].

In practice, UPnP means that media can be freely transferred form one device to another without any user configuration necessary. Simply select your media and devices, and swap the music, videos or pics from one device to another at the touch of a button.

More recently, UPnP has also been used to:

  • Remotely control devices
  • Move digital data in the form of audio, video and still images between devices
  • Share information among devices and with the World Wide Web
  • Exchange structured and secure digital data to support electronic commerce
  • Help physically challenged individuals interact with automatic teller machines via personal access devices that meet their special needs.

UPnP clients and UPnP Media Servers

UPnP runs using HTTP over UDP – in other words, if a device has network connectivity and a TCP/IP stack (i.e. it connects to the Internet in some way), it only needs UPnP software to begin freely exchanging software with other devices. PCs and Macs, naturally, have Internet connectivity built into their operating systems, and Windows XP, Vista, Mac OS and Linux all come either with UPnP software built-in, or with freely-available UPnP software that you can install.

UPnP uses a client-server approach, with UPnP Media Servers storing the media, and UPnP acting as clients (effectively remote controls that access and control the media – indeed, some univeral remote controls come fitted Wi-Fi and a UPnP client to control UPnP devices in just this way).

Most UPnP server solutions are software running on a PC, Mac, XBox or dedicated media server or Network Attached Storage (NAS) box.

UPnP clients act as master devices that can auto-detect UPnP servers and browser, organize and stream media from them. There are many software-based client devices for your PC or Mac, letting you control the media from your NAS, for example, but more interesting are the UPnP-equipped mobile phones that have become available, such as the Nokia N80 or forthcoming Nokia N95.

These let you access all the music and video from your UPnP server (whether it be PC or whatever), upload them to your mobile phone for later playback, or even stream content from your phone to your TV or Hi-Fi.

1 comment

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  1. Problem – Can anyone help

    For some reason I loose my unpn connection to my wireless conceptronic media titan when I try to watch tv on my pc. The only way for me to get it back is to disable the internal tv tuner.

    I use windows media player as my unpn server?

    Very strange – any ideas would be great

    cheers

    Gary

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