Jan 8, 2009

Tech - World's first Internet car radio unveiled

Melbourne, Jan 7 (ANI): Sick of listening to those limited radio channels while driving? Well, now you can have access to 30,000 stations including online broadcasts and AM and FM stations from around the globe-thanks to Aussie researchers who have developed the world's first Internet car radio.

Developed by Melbourne-based online radio aggregator miRoamer, the technology was unveiled in prototype form at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

miRoamer has in turn inked a deal with one of the largest producers of car radios in the world, German-based Blaupunkt, who will produce the radios, which should soon be integrated into the latest models by car manufacturers such as Ford, Holden, Mercedes, BMW and Audi.

The product will also be sold separately for those who want to install it in their cars.

The technology may pose a significant threat to traditional terrestrial broadcasters such as Austereo, as it opens them up to competition from tens of thousands more radio stations from around the world.

George Parthimos, 37, CEO of Doncaster-based miRoamer, revealed that his company has collaborated with internet radio stations from all over the world and brought them together, thus enabling them to be accessed via miRoamer.com and on devices including car radios and mobile phones.

"Some of them are small garage type stations that might only have five or 10 listeners all the way up to broadcasters which have an audience of up to 5 or 6 million people monthly," The Age quoted him as saying.

He added: "You can listen to anything from traditional terrestrial stations, to internet-only stations, to genre-based stations - jazz, rock, pop, '80s, '70s, comedy, talk, finance.

"You're not tied down to the limitations of terrestrial radio. We see this as an evolution of radio."

The Blaupunkt radio accesses the internet by connecting via Bluetooth to the driver's mobile phone, which must be hooked up to a telco's 3G mobile broadband plan.

Parthimos claimed that one would need a 2GB monthly data plan to power the Internet radio for a month on the average drive to and from work.

Besides the cost of the mobile broadband plan, Internet car radio users will need to pay a fee for the radio itself.

Parthimos said the radio will be available for about 399 dollars, with an additional monthly subscription fee of about 15 dollars to access the stations.

According to estimates, the product will be launched in the US and Europe in the second half of 2009 and in Australia next year as a stand-alone product and built into new cars from the factory. (ANI)

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