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For PAIS, NPR Labs Seeks Receiver Makers’ Input

WireReady gets behind the initiative

NPR Labs has completed prototypes as demonstrated with the latest software refinements for HD Radio receivers that are equipped for its Personalized Audio Information Services capability.

The lab, with advice from the International Association of Audio Information Services, has been working to create a practical way to identify radio reading service programs by category as well as topics across categories; transmit that information as Program Service Data in an HD Radio channel; and develop a working HD Radio receiver that enables blind and low-vision listeners to select desired programs for capture and later listening — including traditional rewind/fast forward/scan transport functionality.

PAIS was demoed at the fall Radio Show; since then, some of the prototype receiver software and hardware has been refined based on feedback from test participants. At NPR Labs’ accessible radio meeting at the CES show here in Las Vegas, Dr. Ellyn Sheffield of Towson University said that in recent in-house trials, most of the 30-some test participants said they feel PAIS is an upgrade to analog reading services delivered on FM subcarriers. The fact that PAIS would offer a text display on a future mobile device is enticing to them, she said.

David Gerstmann of WireReady, which provides automation and playout services to some 2,000 stations, said its software can now support PAIS tagging and that stations transmitting in HD wouldn’t need to make any software modifications to add PAIS capability. “Since NPR is offering PAIS as an open standard, all manufacturers should be able to implement this.”

Personalized Radio Explained” (Dec. 2010)