The WorldDAB General Assembly 2018 was a highlight due to the three automotive manufacturers who took part in the automotive panel session. All agreed that DAB is the future of broadcast radio, and outlined progress and roadmaps for further deployment of DAB in the car. However, they all noted that in order to provide the best radio user experience, manufacturers require additional information and support from broadcasters.
Claudio Nervi, Fiat’s Feature Portfolio Planning Manager for EMEA, said, “We have believed in DAB from the beginning, and were the first OEM to introduce DAB in the Fiat 500 in 2012. Nowadays DAB is available on all the FCA range. Alpha Romeo and the latest Jeep models have DAB as standard on all trims, in all countries. This is a mark of FCA’s commitment to DAB.” Mr Nervi shared figures on the increase in the number of cars sold with DAB across several European countries – tripling in Italy since 2015. Projections up to 2025 show the penetration of embedded connectivity in new car sales will continue to rise across EU, US and China.
Calls for increased collaboration with broadcasters
Although they are already working closely with broadcasters, manufacturers say they need more from broadcasters to get the user experience right. This includes service linking information, artwork and display, “now playing” information and adequate sound quality. Other key areas of focus for in-car DAB are personalisation, the multi-screen dashboard, getting DAB as standard and the hybrid radio.
Frank Nowack, Function Owner Multimedia, Ford Germany, outlined some of the existing challenges for broadcasters to provide meaningful and accurate data content. He listed some areas where the broadcasters and car manufacturers need to collaborate to bring the best possible DAB+ experience to the driver. This included providing more data to the car in formats which again benefited the driver.
The broadcasters’ perspective on collaboration and the scale of work required was addressed by Joseph D’Angelo, Senior VP, Broadcast Radio at Xperi. He gave the example of just one car company’s requirements for connected radio, which involved over 280 functions and performance requirements, coverage in 68 countries, support for all broadcast frequencies, GDPR and OEM privacy compliance, security requirements, produce development and certification support, field testing and service support.
The 21st century dashboard and intelligent car
Audi’s vision in the car is for multiple screens, and the car dashboard as an infotainment centre – of which radio is one choice. Martin Koch, Head of Development, MultiMedia, Audi, highlighted the need for visuals, and the important role of personalisation for broadcasters to keep DAB at the centre of the 21st century car. Artwork to support this should be available on an online database.
According to Koch, the dashboard will now be a key differentiator between manufacturers, with “the software running on beautiful hardware. Our car will have more than one screen. The screen real estate takes a lot to feed it,” said Koch.
He highlighted that it is ‘crucial’ for users to have a truly modern and updated experience of in-car radio, and praised the collaboration between Audi, Radio DNS and RadioPlayer to achieve this. He also brought up the interesting point of how this collaboration can function moving forward, and who should be the one funding it. Currently, car manufacturers are back-filling data and could therefore pick up the bill for specialist content, with Koch, however, stating that “it’s in broadcasters’ interest to provide data, in a global open standard, for free,” to bring the radio experience into the 21st century.