Toshiba has developed a graphical user interface for controlling devices such as media servers and audo equipment and shifting content around a home network.

The Toshiba Media Controller software is being shown as a concept at this week's IFA electronics fair in Berlin and will begin appearing in the company's laptops later this year. The software is capable of controlling devices that are compatible with version 1.5 of the DLNA (digital living network alliance) specification for home networking of consumer electronics.

The software first looks for DLNA-compatible devices on the home network and sorts them into servers, which can provide content, and devices used for playback. Then content can be sent from one device to another using drag and drop.

For example, music can be dragged from a server to an audio system and queued for sequential playback while video files could be grabbed from a video recorder and sent to a television.

The data in question doesn't have to be on the laptop and doesn't flow through it. The laptop is simply used to run the Media Controller software, issues instructions to other hardware devices to send content.

It was developed to make potentially complex file transfers and networking operations simple, said Thomas Teckentrup, general manager of marketing at Toshiba's European computer systems business.

"You don't need to understand much about technology," he said. "It's just intuitive. High usability - that's exactly what we are trying to achieve with this product."

Toshiba plans to offer the Media Controller initially as a download for its laptops running Windows 7 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will expand availability to other regions and other products in the future. Potentially, the functionality could be built into a PDA or cell phone that could then be used to coordinate an entire home network, the company said.