UK Automotive Trades Taking Notice of "Smart Radio"

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May 19, 2014 — I believe it's very telling when people from outside our industry not only notice what we're doing, but talk about it in their own trade magazines. Dave Moss, in the May 15 edition of International FleetWorld (see page 24) presents a very good explanation of the "Smart Radio" concept, and RadioDNS.

"The Smart Radio project is a key to what broadcasters have chosen to call 'Hybrid radio.' Here, not-for-profit organization RadioDNS has 26 members, active in major radio markets including Europe, the U.S. and Australia - with another 60 supporting organizations worldwide. All are promoting newly developed technical standards, which make hybrid radio a practical reality. A suite of RadioDNS technology can now fully bridge the previous gap between FM, DAB, and HD Radio broadcasts and mobile broadband Internet connections - thus placing listeners at the heart of seamless interactivity with broadcasters' programming through sound, pictures and text. Over 1,900 stations already use parts of this technology package, which achieves best versatility using digital broadcasting, allowing listeners to access enhanced, personalized interactive content linked to any chosen station. This can include 'on-demand' news or weather, background to programs and personalities, specific event information, and 'tagging,' allowing listeners to request more information or purchase items related to broadcasts.

"RadioDNS technology and the EBU Smart Radio initiatives together underpin another related venture. The worldwide 'Universal Smartphone Radio Project,' (see page 9) is an ambitious move to bring much improved broadcast radio functionality to smartphones - using Hybrid radio principles. Estimates suggest few current smartphones feature radio reception, and the obvious alternative of streamed radio on today's Internet-enabled mobile devices is restricted by data allowances, battery consumption and variable mobile broadband reception. The Universal Smartphone Radio Project seeks to include all global digital radio reception standards inside future smartphones. Discussions with handset makers and mobile network operators are already under way, and towards the end of the EBU summit RadioDNS chair Nick Piggott announced that manufacturer Samsung had just introduced several models featuring Hybrid radio into its Galaxy smartphone range. Though broadcast reception on these is FM, not digital, limiting capability, the move is seen by RadioDNS as a new willingness by handset manufacturers to take a more flexible approach to radio in future.

"Together the 2014 Digital Radio summit and Geneva Motor Show underlined significant progress made by broadcasters and carmakers in just twelve months. Digital radio still has some justified listener concerns, and FM will be around for many years yet, but digitally equipped car numbers are growing fast. Broadcasters are delivering ever more digital programming, and DAB+ continues on course to become a standard for Europe and beyond. Best of all, the innovators are hard at work to make fully connected cars - and smartphones - an easy to use reality at last."

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