Global Security Systems today announced the debut of FM radio data chips plus RDS-based protocol for cell phones and consumer electronics. GSS says they have been working with Silicon Laboratories for over three years to develop government and commercial FM-based message distribution systems and receiver chip designs supporting the Radio Data Service (RDS) aspects of FM broadcasting.
It provides cell phone users with FM listening, and features State and Federal emergency messaging via the FM broadcast infrastructure. The benefit of this system is the ubiquitous FM broadcast infrastructure and its reliability during natural disasters, weather events and man-made emergencies.
The Radio Data System (RDS), sends small amounts of digital information using conventional FM radio broadcasts. The RDS system standardises several types of information transmitted, including time, track/artist info and station identification. RDS has been standard in Europe and Latin America since the early 1990s, but less so in North America.
GSS served on the FCC-established committee to develop the Commercial Mobile Alert Standards, in part because it had developed a similar technology marketed as AlertFM, which emergency management officials can use to create and send digital alerts and messages. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) uses it for weather warnings, but other applications include evacuation instructions, homeland security notices, Amber Alerts and other emergency information to first responders, school officials, businesses and citizens based on geographic or organizational groupings.
AlertFM is currently installed throughout the country and the emergency alert network covers over 90 million persons.
Cell phones are the next big thing for radio. In 2007, only about 8% of U.S. cellular handsets sold (12.5M out of 156M), were FM-capable (pdf) and almost all of these were GSM phones. But people buy new handsets every 19 to 20 months, studies show. If FM capability was added to a considerable portion of new shipments of U.S. handsets, within two years there could be substantial penetration of the embedded handset base by FM-capable phones.
The GSS Radiolicious iPhone application puts ads on a radio stations’ streaming audio, synchronizing radio broadcasts and advertisements on mobile devices.