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The Future of Car Radio is Streaming from your Smartphone

“There are two trends regarding radio in the automobile industry,” said Benjamin Oberkersch, Mercedes-Benz’s Connected Car & Infotainment spokesperson. “These are high-quality digital transmission formats, such as DAB/DAB+ and HD Radio; plus streaming audio, which is also known as Internet radio.” To cope with these demands, automakers around the world have been adding the particular digital transmission formats that conform to their local standards; plus the ability for car radios to receive streaming audio via Internet-connected smartphones. This second trend reflects a paradigm shift in car radio design. Rather than trying to develop some form of built-in mobile telephone capability to connect car radios directly to the wireless Web, car radio manufacturers are content to let their drivers’ smartphones handle this “last mile” link. From an engineering standpoint, this strategy is akin to installing incomplete AM/FM receivers in cars. But since consumers have had to provide their own wireless Web connectivity since in-car audio streaming began, there is no sales resistance to this approach. This doesn’t mean that “embedded wireless modems” don’t exist in cars: GM’s OnStar in-car support service is proof that they do. But embedded modems are more the exception than the standard in cars these days. “The constant evolution of smartphone equipment, plus the ongoing upgrades to mobile networks —– such as going from 3G to 4G —– makes it impossible for car radio manufacturers to select a wireless Web modem technology that will stay current,” explained Steve Brown, product promotions manager at Alpine Electronics of America, an aftermarket car radio manufacturer. “As a result, it makes very good sense for the car radio makers to let the smartphone makers carry this burden.” More via Radio World.

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