RadioDNS Aims to Link Broadcast with Web Content

November 4, 2009

As a new generation of Web-connected mobile media devices add analog (think Ipod Nano) and digital (think Zune HD) radio functionality to their content repertoire, wouldn't it be great if your radio station's over-the-air signal could seamlessly link those platforms to your website where a host of interactive features await the listener? If you're nodding your head, get ready to learn more about RadioDNS, a fascinating open source development project.

RadioDNS is really about combining the simplicity and convenience of local, over-the-air delivery of audio content with Web-linked interactivity, all without continuous consumption of bandwidth associated with streaming audio services. This is accomplished by embedding RadioDNS metadata within the broadcast signal, allowing compatible devices with Web connectivity to link with a broadcasters designated website, where specially designed interactive Web applications allow listeners to access a rich set of features, such as:

  • Radio EPG -- Electronic program guides
  • Radio VIS -- Transmission of images and text that support broadcast audio services
  • Radio TAG -- Listener tagging of specific program elements, such as songs, promos, news items, and even commercials for later recall and detailed reference.

    One very democratic characteristic of this evolving technology is that it can be deployed across a wide variety of existing radio platforms including analog FM (via RDS), HD Radio, DAB/DAB+, and DRM. Since the project involves open-source development, costs are kept low, and receiver manufacturers are free to implement RadioDNS without expensive licensing hassles.

    The driving force behind RadioDNS is an internationally diverse group of broadcasters, equipment designers and manufacturers collaborating to create a set of standards and specifications for the technology. Notable contributors include the BBC, Fraunhofer, Channel 4, Global Radio and Navteq. Technical documentation is freely available on the organization's website.

    And RadioDNS isn't vaporware. One intriguing receiver employing the technology has already found its way to market. Manufactured by UK-based PURE, the Sensia features an egg-shaped case with a 640x480 color touch screen for text, graphics and navigation, coupled with Wi-fi and DAB functionality. For those of a certain age, Sensia is likely to evoke images from Jetson's animated TV series -- reflecting what a digital radio platform can become, as opposed to simply emulating what radios used to look like.

    Admittedly, RadioDNS takes a bit of thinking about before its true potential becomes apparent. But once it does, its proponent's enthusiasm becomes highly contagious.

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