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Digital radios are much like the standard sets that many people have in their cars today, except they offer access to free, crystal-clear, digital programming that's hidden from analog units. iBiquity's digital HD Radio sets have been around for a few years now, working to make up market share lost to subscription services like Sirius, but they haven't made their way into new vehicles -- until now. Next year, Ford will be the first automaker to provide HD Radio sets as a factory-installed option, and via Ford Sync, the units will offer iTunes Tagging capability -- that is, the ability for owners to press a button when they hear a song they like and tag the song for later purchase from iTunes. Music buffs and Appleheads, rejoice (and skim though the full press release below).
Ford first to enable iTunes song tagging with launch of new HD radio capability in its lineup
· Ford is the first auto manufacturer to offer HD Radio™ technology with iTunes® Tagging capability; this new functionality will be available next year
· HD Radio technology captures free digital radio broadcasts, which eliminate static, fadeout and other problems associated with conventional analog radio signals; the result is FM audio that’s comparable to near-CD quality and AM audio that sounds like today’s FM broadcasts
· HD Radio digital technology provides a number of advanced services not available with an analog radio. Extra FM channels, called HD2/HD3 channels, are delivered, as well as useful on-screen Program Service Data such as artist name and song title
DEARBORN,Mich., Dec. 29, 2009 – iTunes Tagging and crystal-clear radio sound through HD Radio technology are the latest features on Ford’s growing list of factory-installed customer conveniences and technologies that will be newly available in 2010.
HD Radio receivers pull in digital radio signals and play them with dramatically improved sound. FM stations, for example, have near-CD quality, making it convenient for customers to select songs they want to download and purchase.
“iTunes Tagging and HD Radio technology are strong new additions to the growing collection of Ford convenience features and technology we’re offering customers to make driving even more enjoyable,” said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. “This is another example of Ford’s commitment to bring the widest variety of factory-installed customer-focused technology, features and conveniences to millions of people.”
In 2010, Ford vehicles will offer familiar terrestrial radio, HD Radio technology, SIRIUS®Satellite Radio as well as Internet radio through Ford SYNC® from a Bluetooth®-streaming audio-capable smartphone.
“Ford continues to lead the market in bringing advanced capabilities to popular vehicles. We are very pleased that HD Radio technology is an integral part of Ford’s broad offering of new features,” said Jeff Jury, COO of iBiquity Digital Corporation, the developer of HD Radio technology.
Like the song? You can tag it
The world’s first implementation of iTunes Tagging in a factory-installed HD Radio receiver will launch in 2010 on select Ford vehicles. Through the SYNC system, iTunes Tagging will provide Ford customers with the ability to capture a song they hear on the HD Radio receiver for later purchase. With a simple push of the “TAG” button on the radio display, the song information will be stored in the radio’s memory.
Up to 100 tags on SYNC can be stored until the iPod is connected. When the iPod is then synced to iTunes, a playlist of “tagged” songs will appear. Customers then can preview and, if desired, purchase and download tagged songs from the iTunes Store.
All HD Radio-enabled receivers in Ford vehicles also will provide Program Service Data – information that appears on the radio screen and includes song title, artist name and more.
Familiar controls with better quality
HD Radio technology enables more listening options and increased sound quality by using the same radio interface customers are used to as well as the same antennas and analog tuners with an added digital decoder inside the radio. Additionally, HD Radio-enabled receivers provide listeners with unique advanced services.
To operate, there’s no difference from today’s radio operations – customers just tune in your favorite station. If the station is broadcasting with HD Radio technology, the system automatically picks up the signal and will transition to digital audio once decoded.
Exclusive to HD Radio receivers are HD2/HD3 channels, which resemble mini-stations that could be spun off the “mother” station or completely new content for the local market. HD2/HD3 channels are found directly adjacent to the main (HD1) channel on the dial if available.
If additional HD2/HD3 channels are available, the radio will indicate how many on a multicast information bar. Users may tune up to the new available channels like they would tune to any other analog station. Users also may store HD2/HD3 presets, just as they do with today’s radio.
HD Radio technology enables better audio and exclusive unique content choices
One significant benefit of HD Radio technology is that the sound quality of the broadcast is dramatically better because of the digital transmission – FM sounds like a CD and AM sounds like today’s FM broadcasts. Also, the sound itself is much clearer and more consistent, without issues such as pops or hisses. Unlike analog broadcasts, digital broadcasts aren’t susceptible to interference, fadeout and other issues.
Most stations use the additional HD2/HD3 channels to provide more unique coverage of sports, music or other niche programs often tailored for their individual markets – all for free. For example, in Dallas there is now a dedicated 24/7 Cowboys channel on 105.3-HD3. In Pittsburgh, there is a dedicated 24/7 Penguins channel on 105.9-HD2. Broadcasters may choose any genre they wish for their additional channels.
Nearly 2,000 radio stations in the U.S. currently broadcast in digital HD Radio sound, with nearly 1,000 stations also airing HD2/HD3 channels. Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population is served by a station broadcasting with HD Radio technology.
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