Harris Corporation and NPR Labs to Demonstrate New HD Radio Services for Hearing and Visually Impaired at NAB2006
CINCINNATI, April 4, 2006 — Harris Corporation’s (NYSE: HRS) Broadcast Communications Division and National Public Radio (NPR) Labs will offer a technology-driven display at NAB2006 demonstrating how HD Radio can offer radio service to listeners who are hearing and/or visually impaired. The demonstrations will take place at the Harris HD Radio™ display (Booth #C807 in the Central Hall). They will be staffed by members of NPR Labs, the advanced digital technology research and development center that is spearheading new public service technology initiatives on behalf of NPR and NPR member stations; by engineers from NPR Member stations; and by Harris staff.
Visitors will see a preview of captioned radio text for the hearing impaired, and extended hybrid mode operation of radio reading services for the visually impaired sent over the HD Radio air chain. The complete proof-of-concept design will feature Harris transmission equipment for insertion of the program material in the HD Radio multicasting stream, and Kenwood and Boston Acoustics radios to receive the dedicated Radio Reading Service channel and a radio captioning display of an NPR program.
Currently, many NPR Member stations broadcast Radio Reading Services for the Blind — a program which offers readings of books and publications over analog subcarriers — to approximately 1,000,000 weekly listeners, or 10 percent of the potential visually impaired audience. The addition of this service to the HD Radio multiplex of audio and text-based services will provide far easier access for listeners and increase reading service audience size. Similarly, the HD Radio multiplex can carry the new captioned radio text service to deliver news, weather, and other important information to the hearing impaired.
“These initiatives extend public radio’s mission to provide information services to all Americans,” said Mike Starling, chief technology officer and executive director of NPR Labs. “Nearly 32 million people in the U.S. qualify as visually or hearing impaired, with that number growing significantly as baby boomers reach retirement age. Radio’s transition to digital and the inherent capacity of the HD Radio system allow us to partition a portion of the Advanced Audio Services data stream to provide these specialized services. This solves many distribution and audio quality hurdles we’ve experienced with radio reading services in the analog realm and creates entirely new opportunities for radio captioning through the graphical capabilities of HD Radio text.”
The demonstrations will use Harris’ end-to-end HD Radio solution, featuring a Z-Series™ digital transmitter and the FLEXSTAR™ family of HD Radio products. The FLEXSTAR HDI-100 Importer will send the services to the FLEXSTAR HDE-100 Exporter, which multiplexes the services with audio prior to distribution to the transmitter. A FLEXSTAR HDX-FM exciter will accept the services inside the transmitter and digitally prepare the signals for over-the-air HD Radio transmission to the Kenwood receiver.
“Harris and NPR have a long-standing relationship of innovative collaboration with new initiatives to advance digital radio,” Starling added. “Our joint testing and promotion of the Tomorrow Radio Project proved the concept’s viability and proved so successful that it turned into the multicasting initiative now embraced in both commercial and public radio.”
Hal Kneller, manager of public radio initiatives for Harris, has worked closely with NPR Labs on many projects, and is thoroughly familiar with the public service mission of public radio. “Both Harris and NPR have been very active in the support of Radio Reading Service initiatives,” said Kneller, who currently sits on the IAAIS (International Association of Audio Information Services) board. “This, along with the launch of the Tomorrow Radio Project several years ago, points to the overall industry leadership in which Harris and NPR share a common interest. We are privileged to work with NPR yet again on these important programming initiatives, and look forward to demonstrating how these initiatives can co-exist adjacent to mainstream audio services within the HD Radio multicasting environment.”
Starling added that the introduction of these services will follow a multiyear developmental cycle currently underway. NPR Labs has also partnered with NPR station WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media — which introduced television closed captioning for the hearing impaired — as part of the demonstration and long-term accessible radio services development.
Since its launch in 1970, NPR has evolved into a leading media company, primary news provider and dominant force in American life. In partnership with 815 public radio stations, it attracts almost 26 million listeners to the nearly 150 hours of broadcast programming it produces and distributes weekly. A privately supported, non-profit membership organization, NPR is also active in digital media through www.NPR.org, its successful NPR Podcasts, two 24/7 NPR channels on Sirius Satellite Radio, and five 24/7 multicast music channels for HD Radio, a technology in which it has led industry research and development. NPR Worldwide serves nearly 150 countries with a full schedule of programming offered through terrestrial, satellite and digital radio; national cable, and American Forces Network.
About Harris Corporation
Harris is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. With headquarters in Melbourne, Florida, the company has annual sales of over $3 billion and more than 13,000 employees — including 5,500 engineers and scientists — dedicated to the development of best-in-class assured communications™ products, systems, and services. The company’s operating divisions serve markets for government communications, RF communications, broadcast communications, and microwave communications. Additional information about Harris Corporation is available at www.harris.com.
HD Radio™ is a trademark of iBiquity Digital Corporation
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- Harris Broadcast Communications Division
- Harris Corporation
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