NXP was at the recent Frankfurt motor show, known locally as Internationale Automobil Ausstellung (IAA), which is the world’s biggest automotive event. One of the interesting multimedia developments was the growing interest in digital radio which is now starting to become a key part of in-vehicle entertainment systems as technical and cost challenges are overcome.
The most important proof point for take-up of the technology was clear by simply looking at the new cars on display. An increasing range of vehicles from for example BMW, Volkswagen and Kia all featured digital radio at the heart of their entertainment systems.
The industry’s commitment to the technology was further demonstrated by the German automobile industry body – the VDA – which hosted a special Digitalradio Forum.
Technology evolution driving the market
NXP delivered a presentation highlighting how all the pieces are now in place for major global take-up of the technology. Sebastian Schreuder, Strategic Marketing Manager in NXP’s car entertainment business line, delivered a presentation illustrating how the latest chips make integrating digital radio into vehicles dramatically easier.
A key issue for vehicle manufacturers is that they have a long lead time for new features and need to manage costs closely. The fact that different digital radio technologies are used around the world with the result that manufacturers have traditionally needed separate head-end units for different regions has made take-up slow and expensive.
However, these challenges are now in the rear-view mirror with the introduction of global multi-standard digital radio technology. This has been made possible with cutting edge software defined radio which simplifies putting several radio standards (e.g. DAB/DAB+/T-DMB, DRM and HD Radio) on a single base-band processor. Embedding multi-standard global digital radio on a single chip makes it vastly easier and cheaper for car OEMs and their suppliers to embrace the technology.
This could not be better timed as digital radio services go from strength to strength – especially in Europe. In the UK, the use of digital radio has increased by 16% over the past year while analogue radio is rapidly falling. New markets continue to embrace the technology with the Netherlands launching its new DAB service last month and Poland launching this month.
Clearly, everything is beginning to align for digital radio to enjoy significant uptake in the automotive sector and beyond.