RadioDNS – 2014 & 2015

Nick Piggott,

The turn of the year is a good time to review some of our achievements in 2014, and tell you about our plans for 2015.

Our mission is to enable the widespread use of hybrid radio, seamlessly combining broadcast radio and the internet to create an app-like experience of radio in the connected dashboard, smartphones and other connected devices. Absolutely centre of RadioDNS’ strategy is the creation of a stable, trusted, open and interoperable ecosystem in which broadcasters and manufacturers can create great new hybrid radio services, like visualisation and interactivity. We don’t believe in proprietary technology, or becoming an intermediary intervening between broadcasters and listeners. Here’s what we achieved in 2014.

Internationally Recognised Technical Standards

Anyone should be able to freely use our technical standards to build devices or create services. Publishing those standards on our website has already allowed hundreds of stations and devices to incorporate RadioDNS Hybrid Radio, but some manufacturers need guarantees that those standards will be stable, permanent and consistent. A lot of time in 2014 went toward aligning and merging our functionality into existing ETSI (European Technical Standards Institute) standards, which represent a global gold standard. In particular, Lindsay Cornell (WorldDMB) and Ben Poor (Global Radio) spent many hours reviewing and revising documents to get them to those high standards. ETSI standardisation removes another barrier to adoption by manufacturers, particularly in the automotive sector.

Trademarks

We’ve invested in registering the RadioDNS Hybrid Radio name and logo as trade marks in key markets globally. Controlling the use of our trademarks reassures consumers, broadcasters and manufacturers that the technology they’re using is not just designed from the RadioDNS Technical Specifications, but has also met minimum compliance requirements. In 2015 we’ll be issuing licences to use the RadioDNS trademarks subject to passing compliance tests (see our 2015 plans below).

A New Website

We exist at the intersection between traditional broadcast radio and contemporary web development, so it’s important that our website is accessible and informative to both “radio” people and “internet” people. It’s an essential place of reference and communication, so the new site has more HOWTO guides (in a familiar Internet style), libraries of code, libraries of presentations and videos, and all our documentation. As an open organisation, it’s also the place where everyone can see how we work for the benefit of our members and how we make decisions.

The XSI Meta-Data Tool

We’re constantly looking for ways to make it easier for radio stations to get involved in RadioDNS and the XSI Meta-Data tool is a simple on-line tool that can guide you into creating RadioDNS Hybrid Radio compliant meta-data information on your radio stations. As more stations launch even simple RadioDNS Hybrid Radio services, it becomes increasingly attractive to manufacturers to include it in the devices, smartphones, and cars.

Outstanding DNS Uptime

At the heart of our technology is the concept of using DNS to turn broadcast station information into web addresses. DNS is perfectly suited to this job, as it’s robust, scaleable and at the very centre of the Internet itself. We run multiple root-name servers that contribute into DNS, and our uptime (as seen by clients) has exceeded 99.999%.

Our 2015 Plans

We’ve got three big projects for 2015, aimed at removing the next obstacles to widespread adoption of RadioDNS Hybrid Radio.

Project Logo

All hybrid radio devices need meta-data from radio stations to work correctly; without meta-data they’re as dumb as a disconnected device. We’re going to be working with broadcaster organisations (like UK Radioplayer and similar projects in our countries) to publish meta-data for thousands of stations during 2015. RadioDNS doesn’t manage or control station information, but we can help broadcasters find ways of providing that information – via their national associations, collaborative projects, commercial service providers or even by asking existing meta-data providers to provision a RadioDNS Hybrid Radio compliant feed of meta-data. At the same time we’ll be telling manufacturers about the growth of hybrid radio, and linking them up to hands-on experience and advice on implementing hybrid radio.

Test and Demonstration Platform

Testing new technology can be time consuming and expensive, so we’re going to make it easier and cheaper with our test and demonstration platform. Manufacturers will be able to automate device testing, and broadcasters/service providers will be able to verify that their platforms are outputting content correctly too. It’s an essential validation of the interoperability of our ecosystem where any RadioDNS Hybrid Radio compliant device will work with any RadioDNS Hybrid Radio compliant service. Devices and platforms that successfully pass the compliance tests will be able to use the RadioDNS Hybrid Radio logo.

New Technical Standards

RadioTAG, a technical standard defining interactivity for radio, will be publishing during 2015. Our most complex but most valuable standard to it, it combines a simple ‘one-button-push’ interaction that’s ideal for driving/working/walking with a powerful ‘single-sign-on’ function that allows users to link all their radio devices together to get a unified view of everything they’ve found interesting on the radio. RadioWEB will allow broadcasters to use powerful web technologies like HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript to create state-of-the-art user experiences delivered through web-browsers, but triggered by tuning into a radio station. It will give listeners a way to switch instantly from passive to active engagement in a fully station-branded environment.

Meeting Up in 2015

Evangelising about hybrid radio (and radio generally) is still a big part of our plans, and so you’ll see as at major events internationally in 2015. We’re always happy to arrange meetings with manufacturers or broadcasters, so don’t hesitate to email the project office if you’d like us to present RadioDNS Hybrid Radio to you. Similarly, if you’d like us to loan you demonstration devices, posters, leaflets, banners or presentations, we’re happy to do that too. RadioDNS exists to make radio more valuable for everyone – broadcasters, manufacturers and listeners. To do that we rely on funding from our members, and collaboration and goodwill across the entire industry. Our success benefits everyone, and 2015 looks set to be our most successful year so far.

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