This article appeared in 2013.
Jeff Littlejohn is executive vice president of engineering and systems integration for Clear Channel, Media + Entertainment. Kevin Loftus is senior vice president of operations for the Total Traffic Network, a subsidiary of Clear Channel.
In recent years, there has been more focus from the automotive industry to develop technology that optimizes drivers’ access to information, while at the same time staying safe and focused on the road. Large, colorful displays and touch screens are increasingly common in the “center stack” of new vehicles.
Previously these displays were only found in high-end vehicles or embedded navigation systems. Today we see these displays integrated into cars across all price points, sometimes as standard equipment, and including more features such as a display of vehicle diagnostic information; heightened navigation; and basic infotainment systems like radio, CD players and portable audio players.
In addition, automotive companies are now using these displays to present content found on the driver’s smartphone.
The challenge becomes how to deliver relevant information to the driver in a manner that is cost-effective, ubiquitous and safe.
To the casual observer, the Internet is a good conduit through which to deliver such information. However, Internet-only content delivery to vehicles has several disadvantages: Availability, bandwidth, latency, reliability, cost of integrated devices and the cost of delivering services make this model less than optimal.
Phone pairing with the vehicles can be challenging for some customers, and yet others may decide not to pair the phone with their vehicle. So how can an automotive company deliver relevant information to the dashboard in an efficient, cost-effective manner?
Total Traffic Network leads the navigation solution industry by providing real-time local traffic flow and incident information with graphics to vehicle dashboards via an HD Radio signal or IP connectivity.
Our latest HD Hybrid technology, branded “TTN HD+,” delivers easy-to-access features that include Doppler RADAR; real-time local and national weather forecasts from The Weather Channel; traffic updates; and the ability to receive news, stocks, sport scores and fuel prices.
The TTN HD+ solution provides real-time, cost-efficient information that is constantly available nationwide, even as the car moves through varying signal conditions.
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TTN uses HD Radio’s Advanced Application Services framework to dedicate a portion of a transmitting station’s digital bandwidth to this data content. This content is broadcast and repeated continually for receivers in the coverage area to download the data and provide up-to-date and relevant information to the dashboard. Typically, these systems will have a dedicated sub-tuner looking for a radio station that carries the TTN data package.
TTN offers best-in-class HD digital coverage in the U.S. TTN is a subsidiary of Clear Channel and therefore the data is available on all Clear Channel FM HD radio stations. TTN offers more stations and local HD markets than any other provider.
TTN HD+ is available in large and small markets nationwide. The TTN network resides on all of the Clear Channel stations in any given market, which typically offers three to five stations. This provides additional redundancy to unforeseen transmission failures (antenna, transmitter, generator, data circuits) and also in many markets allows for multiple “angles of attack.” Where one transmitter site might be shielded at a receiver location, TTN often offers other signals providing service to same area.
Compared to other delivery technologies such as satellite, TTN provides extensive premium traffic services, and offers bandwidth in each market dedicated to hyper-local content.
When FM HD reception is not available, capable receivers can switch to hybrid IP technology and obtain the same quality content via the Internet through a connected solution. Receiver connectivity can be direct via an embedded cellular device or, more common these days, paired with a smartphone that acts as a proxy.
In addition to its best-in-class technical performance, TTN provides best-in-class content. TTN’s traffic information is gathered through its network of operations centers around the country. As the largest and most experienced provider of traffic flow and incident information, TTN has a wider local footprint than any other provider.
With 16 around-the-clock operations centers in the U.S. and unparalleled data-gathering resources, TTN provides relevant and accurate traffic data to in-vehicle systems, handheld devices and the largest network of television and radio affiliates. In 2012, TTN partnered with The Weather Channel to enhance its in-vehicle offering by including Doppler RADAR imagery and hyper-local forecasts to be included in the TTN HD+ solution.
Winner of the Telematics Update 2012/2013 Best Navigation Solution award, TTN HD+ launched the first use of TPEG protocol for digital traffic information in the U.S. In addition to data for embedded navigation systems, TTN has also released the Simple Traffic Map, a tile-based, color-coded traffic map that displays congestion levels, which is available in lower-cost vehicles without a navigation system.
TTN HD+ content and delivery is available factory-installed in select Toyota and Lexus vehicles, and is available to all vehicles through aftermarket JVC navigation systems.
For information about the Total Traffic Network visit www.totaltraffic.com.