FM radio capability in cell phones and mobile devices is a big emphasis for radio broadcast leaders. On Monday at the NAB Show, Global Security Systems debuted FM radio data chips as well as an RDS-based protocol for cell phones and consumer electronics, hoping to move the industry closer to that target as well as encourage adoption of its own alerting network offerings.
The company, a vocal advocate of radio-capable cell phones, says it’s been working with Silicon Laboratories to develop its FM-based message distribution systems for government and commercial entities as well as receiver chip designs that support RDS, or Radio Data Service, aspects of FM.
The announcement was made by Tyson Tuttle, VP of Silicon Laboratories Broadcast Products, and Robert Adams, president/CEO of GSS; they said that GSS protocols paired with Silicon Labs’ RDS receiver technology will “enable cellular and portable device customers to significantly differentiate their products.”
GSS believes that cell phones that can receive FM without cumbersome headphone antennas will not only be more popular with consumers but can then put RDS capabilities into the hands of many more consumers, which in turn will better support the penetration of emergency alerting systems like its Alert FM.
“The integrated technologies provide cell phone users with FM listening, and add the important feature of state and federal emergency messaging via the FM broadcast infrastructure,” the company states in an announcement made at the show in Las Vegas. “The benefit of this system is the ubiquitous FM broadcast infrastructure and its reliability during natural disasters, weather events and man-made emergencies.”
Silicon Labs makes “mixed signal” ICs, which process analog and digital signals on one chip. It has introduced a line of receiver ICs that support integrated antennas, digital audio out, worldwide FM band support and RDS technology on a chip measuring 3 mm square.
“Silicon Labs’ ICs use a patented tuned-resonance technology which allows integrated FM antennas constructed of printed circuit board (PCB) traces, loops, stubs or other devices to perform as well or better than the headset-cord wired antennas they replace,” the companies say.
Silicon Labs’ antenna technology lets the FM receiver use antennas inside the mobile device instead of requiring headphone wires. “This allows mobile devices to remain constantly connected to the FM alerting system, while capitalizing on power-saving mechanisms inherent in the GSS protocol to consume very little current,” according to the announcement.
In addition to power-saving features, GSS says its own RDS-based signaling technology supports targeted messaging to small areas, over-the-air programming and activation, a scanning algorithm to allow receivers to roam nationwide and addressability to the chip level.