The Long and Winding Road

Favorites Presets on the DTS Connected Radio Screen

Since 1930 when Galvin Manufacturing introduced the first car radio—the “Motorola”—the automobile has been closely tied to the world of broadcasting. For most of this history it has been about the audio experience, but the automotive world—along with notable tech giants including Apple and Google—sees a day when the car does the driving and offers new experiences in mobility.

This is being explored at NAB Show in several sessions and a curated on-floor in-vehicle experience that highlight this convergence and how media companies and automotive manufacturers are already utilizing the latest communication technologies.

“Automobile technology is evolving rapidly, and as we progress towards autonomy and even more advanced forms of transportation, it is critical that media organizations connect with automobile manufacturers and their network of component and technology suppliers in order to ensure the success of future in-vehicle entertainment,” said Chris Brown, NAB executive vice president for Conventions and Business Operations. “The automobile is another frontier for content distribution, and media companies need to ensure they will play a role when it comes to fruition.”

Today, the concept of mobility isn’t just about getting from point A to point B. It is also about utilizing the time spent during that trip more productively. As the autonomous vehicle, or self-driving car, becomes reality, mobility will be less about the distance and more about what can be done during the trip. However, there is still a long and somewhat winding road to get fully autonomous vehicles on American roads.

“Autonomous vehicles will revolutionize the commute, but it will take time for these to be safely and effectively deployed at scale,” said Sam Matheny, chief technology officer at NAB, and a speaker during today’s session “Autonomous Cars and Amazing Experiences: Safety, Content & Connectivity.” Produced in partnership with the Center for Automotive Research and The Intelligent Transportation Society of America, the session will be held on the Main Stage, 3:45 p.m., and is open to all registered attendees.

“People will do different things with their time depending on their goals and personalities, but I think folks will have the opportunity to be both more productive and better entertained,” said Matheny. “They will listen to the radio or streaming music or podcasts, watch television or streaming video or downloaded video, talk on the phone, do email, consume and post to social media, or they might just take a nap. There is a great opportunity for broadcasters to offer programming suited towards this time. It is a real opportunity for television and video programming in particular.”

The autonomous vehicle will provide an opportunity for content consumption and delivery to be uniquely tailored for every rider. Half-hour sessions on this will be presented as part of the In-Vehicle Experience in the North Hall. Topics will include the connected car, media display and consumer technology, voice activation, audio design, peripherals and navigation, ATSC 3.0 and HD Radio. Also, Audi and Xperi will provide live, in-car demonstrations of the latest technologies driving content delivery and consumer engagement. Sponsors of the In-Vehicle Experience include Xperi, Gaian, Audi and Access.

Today’s session “Connected Cars and Next Gen TV: Infrastructure Decisions Could Be Key to ATSC 3.0 Adoption,” 3 p.m., will highlight one key aspect to this convergence.

“There is a great opportunity for vehicle OEMs to use ATSC 3.0 as an additional wireless IP network to connect their vehicles,” said Matheny. “ATSC 3.0 can provide steady and reliable data to cars and to smart city infrastructure that will be pervasive with vehicle-to-infrastructure (V-to-I) communications. ATSC 3.0 will be a powerful and integral part of a heterogeneous network solution that enables other networks to be more effective.”

This session will also address infrastructure challenges.

“Short-range communication is going to take years and years to work out, and these are also vulnerable to everything from congestion to physical attacks,” said John M. Lawson, executive director of the AWARN Alliance and speaker in the session. “The panel will discuss how broadcasters fit into this market, and also how ATSC 3.0 cannot be addressed as an add-on but needs to be at the core of the infrastructure.”

Other sessions include “Broadcast and IP in the Car — How Will These Converge,” “Connected Cars Will Run on Satellite” and “Beyond Audio: Radio’s Opportunity in Autonomous Vehicles, IoT and Other Services” will further highlight and address the challenges that lay ahead.

“The automobile and media are becoming a connected topic,” said Joe D’Angelo, senior vice president of broadcast at Xperi. “What has changed is the access to content, but right now it has largely remained audio-based, and I’m a skeptic of the time frame of the rollout of autonomous vehicles from where we are now,” he added.

“However, broadcast radio is more relevant than ever in connected vehicles thanks to the proliferation of digital radio, which has allowed the number of channels to double in some markets,” said D’Angelo. “IT merged with broadcast has allowed us to provide a new way that the driver can discover audio like never before. You can speak to the radio, tune to stations by name or genre; but broadcasters can also gain a new level of insight from the audience that goes far beyond traditional diaries. We’ll be showing these metrics and analytics at NAB Show.”