Following the record attendance level of Israeli companies at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress this month, consumer technologies expert Michael Gartenberg, Vice President and Research Director of US-based Jupiter Research, will arrive in Israel next week to outline his vision of what the future holds for hi-tech devices in the home. Jupiter specializes in analyzing and forecasting market trends in the Internet and cellular sectors, and has maintained a branch in Israel for two years, headed by Haim Oren. During his visit to Israel, Gartenberg will address Israel's largest cellphone providers at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, where he will discuss future directions in the cellular sector. He will also speak to the Israel Export Institute. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post ahead of his visit, Gartenberg outlined the results of his research into personal digital appliances, while sounding a warning about the dangers of overloading consumers with technology. "In America, one of the things that we're seeing is the changing role of home devices," he said. "What I call is a TV set isn't what my father called a TV set." While home devices were once easily definable, Gartenberg said, their functions are being increasingly integrated. "Today, you can browse the Internet with an iPod, a computer can display TV content - there are lots of overlapping functions - and consumers will own a lot devices," he said. "Functionality will become more and more interrelated than we've ever seen before." The danger of consumer confusion is "going to be one of the biggest challenges" for hi-tech vendors, Gartenberg said. Every home has already been forced to set up an improvised IT department, he said, adding: "Although the husband doesn't want to be the CEO, and the wife doesn't want to run the help desk, that's what's happening. There is a risk of a consumer backlash; this stuff is way too hard to manage... "That's the challenge, to make things easier. We don't think everything will move to one device - there will be multiple devices based on a hierarchy." In the future order of appliances, Gartenberg said, the "cellphone will be critical because you always have it in your pocket. But even that is changing, as the Barcelona Congress showed. Five years ago, the cellphone was just for talking, there were no e-mails or cameras associated with it, but all of those things have changed very dramatically. The reality is that the cellphone is just another pocket-sized computer with a screen on it." Despite the continued integration of functions in a single device, "people still want separate devices, iPods, separate digital cameras," Gartenberg said. According to Jupiter's research, he said, consumers just aren't prepared to carry more than three devices with them. "This has very big implications, because if you're a device vendor, you don't want to be number four," he said. Regarding the shifting focus from the American to the European markets on the part of Israeli communications firms, fueled by the plummeting dollar, Gartenberg said: "Most people in the US think we will see a strengthening of the dollar over time, but at the same time a lot of core technology is coming from Israel into the US market and is finding its way into products. You might see larger deals in Europe, but over time there will be more balance." Haim Oren, who heads Jupiter's sales efforts in Israel, said Jupiter was excited about the innovations coming out of the country's hi-tech industry. "Israel is a small country, but what's being developed here is world-class," he said. "No wonder Google has two service centers here." Israeli companies seeking to export technologies overseas were keen to consume the kind of market research provided by Jupiter, on diverse areas from social networking to voice-over Internet protocol, Haim Oren said. "There is more and more investment flowing into the Israeli market," he said, noting Yahoo's recent launch of its first Israeli headquarters in Haifa, "And that's where Jupiter is coming into play."