Digital radio: huge opportunities

Digital audio broadcasting could create a “whole host” of opportunities for product, new media and graphic designers, according to the author of a major new report.

The report is the first publication to come out of The Fourth Room’s FutureScape research programme, which examines the potential of digital audio broadcasting. The Attik designed the document (DW 20 November).

“[Because digital audio broadcasting delivers data] it has the potential to bring together a whole range of communications technologies and to create fully interactive services,” says Nigel Shardlow, co-author of the report and principal at The Fourth Room.

Although digital radio broadcasting officially started with the BBC around three years ago, it has not been widely adopted by other broadcasters, product manufacturers and consumers.

However, Shardlow argues that if properly harnessed, digital audio broadcasting technology could lead to a whole range of platform devices. These would incorporate different services and create great opportunities for product designers, he says.

“One device might receive radio, but it might also be used as a phone and to store information, such as passport details and other information you might need to access. It might also be used to download, store and play recorded music at the push of a button,” says Shardlow.

“The radio could have an LCD surface that changes with each song played. It could display an image or a visual pattern, anything. The data for this would be fed into the device along with the audio information [of the song]. This could create a lot of opportunities for new media and graphic designers,” Shardlow continues.

Shardlow points out that it is up to leading industry players to get together to develop these applications and harness the opportunities it presents to design and other industries.

“When we suggested doing this report we didn’t get a great deal of industry interest. But we think it’s a massive opportunity and so we funded it ourselves,” says Shardlow.

The Fourth Room is looking to establish a group to develop the technology’s potential. It is hoping to attract key relevant industry players such as appliance manufacturers, broadcasters, supermarkets, telecommunications companies, music companies and travel companies.

The report’s visual and linguistic style aims to make the contents seem interesting and exciting.

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