By Laurence Harrison, Chairman of WorldDAB Automotive Working Group and Market Development Director, Digitalradio UK
It’s a busy time for the various WorldDAB Automotive Groups with a number of important initiatives currently taking place to help improve the digital radio experience in the car. In particular, the focus has been on the user experience and performance of DAB+ in new cars and supporting the aftermarket.
The UX and Performance Groups have joined forces to meet with all the major car manufacturers over the last 9 months and kick-start discussion and collaboration focusing on the UX Guidelines (launched in February 2018) and the issues that can affect the performance and reception of DAB in the car. In the last 8 months we have held meetings with Ford, VW, Peugeot, Citroen, Mercedes, Renault, Jaguar LandRover, Toyota and Opel with others still to come. The meetings have been an excellent way of building relationships and share information with all of the key decision makers in the car manufacturers in a number of departments (radio/HMI/Connected), some of whom are already WorldDAB members. Without exception all the meetings have been constructive and beneficial with actions for broadcasters and car manufacturers alike.
The user experience has been a key focus and all the OEMs have said how important and helpful the UX guidelines have been in prompting internal discussion about the DAB UX. Our next step is to revise the guidelines to provide a much clearer direction to hybrid radio (FM, DAB, DAB+ and IP working together) and voice control. The new Audi A8 with hybrid radio launched earlier this year and has impressed everyone who’s tried it while also meeting all the UX guideline recommendations. We are now looking forward to other car brands launching platforms which comply with the WorldDAB UX Guidelines. We’ve also seen fantastic hybrid platform developments from Radioplayer and Xperi, and the recent research from Digital Radio UK and Radioplayer showed the intuitive and safe nature of voice and radio in the car. This all makes the revisions to the UX guidelines an important step.
One of the things that car manufacturers have consistently asked for is a set of DAB test routes in key European markets. These routes will provide a contact in each market and a set DAB route which provide a clear set of broadcast conditions. This is something that the performance group is delivering and is a great example of the collaboration that we’ve managed to foster. For more information on test routes please contact the Project Office.
The WorldDAB Aftermarket Devices Group has started work to ensure the quality of devices and to improve communication of these devices both in terms of B2B and consumers. This group is hoping to provide guidance to manufactures on quality levels and this document is currently being drafted. At the same time some of the other issues which have been seen in this area are being worked on. Further news from this group will follow in early 2019.
At the WorldDAB General Assembly in Berlin we launched the first WorldDAB Automotive Awards which will recognise digital radios (new cars and aftermarket) that have a great UX. More information will follow but this is a great way to support our automotive partners who are making great radios, and we intend to present the awards at the WorldDAB Automotive 2019, taking place in Turin on 20 June 2019. Make sure you’re there!