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Embedded Auto Modems Bring New Urgency to HD Conversion

IBiquity Debuts New Booth

Broadcasters will see elements of iBiquity’s new, larger booth come spring NAB.

The booth is modular, giving the tech developer more flexibility in arranging it, company President Bob Struble explained to RW at CES.

The new design is more open, allowing the company to feature cars as well as aftermarket, tabletop and portable receivers. Here in Las Vegas, there are even two tablets on display that contain an HD Radio chip.

The new data elements of HD Radio, like Artist Experience and digital traffic data services “make radio more competitive in the dash,” said Struble, who has long championed the station conversion from analog to HD. Lately that focus falls on medium to smaller market stations. That type of station owner is looking for ROI right away from the digital conversion.

For years, iBiquity has told stations the connected car is coming and they can’t take radio’s historical dominance in the dash for granted. Now automakers are developing embedded Internet modems in vehicles — at least one is on display here in Las Vegas.

When the consumer has that in the vehicle, like 4G or LTE broadband, they can also get audio, says Struble. That represents a threat to traditional radio, hence the urgency for stations to convert, and for those that have converted to incorporate the advanced data features of HD Radio, according to the tech company executive. IBiquity has examples of cars with traffic data provided with the digital signal of stations belonging to the Broadcast Traffic Consortium and the Clear Channel Total Traffic Network.

Another consumer electronics trend he notes is more devices are being built without AM/FM radio capability, because that’s what manufacturers believe buyers want. “Everything’s an app now” because that’s how people want to interact with their devices, he says. “We have demos of home radios with no knobs,” for example.