Digital radio hasn't really taken off, but Motorola (www.motorola.com/semiconductors) is moving quickly to give users the clarity and other benefits of digital technology. The Semiconductor Products Sector has teamed up with two partners who will help bring its Symphony technology to consumers, adding interactivity while still working with analog radio.
An agreement with StratosAudio Inc. in Century City, CA (www.stratosaudio.com) will add interactivity, letting consumers tap buttons on the radio to find out what song is playing, as well as offering ways to respond to on-air content. The Stratos-Audio software provides vehicle access to advertised discounts and premiums, as well as music information, listener voting, traffic alerts, and more.
"If you hear a song you like, you can get a follow-up via cell phone, PDA, or an e-mail sent to your home," says Kelly Christensen, CEO at StratosAudio.
These features augment Motorola's basic Symphony technology, unveiled last fall. It uses a 24-bit DSP to filter out static, minimize fading, reduce station bleed over, and improve listening ranges by enhancing the analog signal.
Radios are currently being readied for aftermarket availability. Hyundai Autonet, the Korean automotive electronics manufacturer, which has many existing agreements with Motorola, is producing Symphony radios that should be in stores in the fall. Prices will be about the same as analog radios.
"Broadcasters will be able to provide interactivity using Stratos-Audio software, which is licensed free. A broadcaster will pay from nothing to $3,000, depending on what hardware they have," says John Hansen, director of marketing, Digital, Audio, Radio, and Telematics at Motorola. That cost is for a radio data system/radio broadcast data system encoder.