Deal To Bring OEM Internet Radio To More Cars, Livio Says

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Ferndale, Mich. - Livio, the supplier of Internet-radio products for the home and car audio aftermarket, struck an agreement with a key Bluetooth chip maker to bring more Internet radio services to more factory sound systems at a faster pace, the company contended.

U.K.-based CSR, a major supplier of Bluetooth chips to automakers, has incorporated Livio middleware into its Bluetooth chips, enabling factory head units to use Bluetooth to control many features on select Internet radio apps installed on Android, BlackBerry and Apple smartphones, said Livio brand manager Nicole Yelland. The smartphones in turn would stream Internet radio stations and services via stereo Bluetooth to the vehicle's OEM sound system.

The middleware accelerates time to market because it makes it unnecessary for each Internet-radio app company to work with each automaker to develop an Internet radio solution, she said.  The middleware "will allow automakers to get apps safely into the car through software features in chips that already power a majority of built-in Bluetooth systems on the road today," added Livio CEO Jake Sigal.

 The middleware supports control and streaming of 10 different Internet radio services, including the Livio Car Internet Radio app, which provides access to 45,000 Internet radio stations. Other supported Internet radio services include 977 Music, AccuRadio, Digitally Imported, Grooveshark, and Live 365.

With the middleware, automakers can use factory head units to control more Internet radio functions wirelessly than they could with Bluetooth's AVRC (audio video remote control) profile, Yelland said. "What we're doing with CSR builds upon AVRC capabilities in that you have Bluetooth, but we add in more benefits [control features] with this chipset, like being able to launch an app." Drivers could also use the head unit to search for songs by genre, she added.

 Bluetooth AVRC, in contrast, allows for head unit control of basic smartphone-app functions, such as track up/down and play/pause.

 CSR's chips are in 65 percent of vehicles sold with factory-installed Bluetooth, Yelland said. CSR's chips also appear in consumer electronics products such as Bluetooth stereo headphones. Livio's middleware is now also available in those chips.

 In another development, Livio plans December availability of a Bluetooth-equipped car kit that streams the Grooveshark on-line music service from an Android smartphone to any car radio.  The $119-suggested kit, which will be available through Grooveshark's web site, consists of a controller mounted to a stalk that plugs into a vehicle's cigarette lighter. The controller uses Livio's Bluetooth middleware to wirelessly control many of the functions of Grooveshark's Internet radio app for Android phones. The phone streams Grooveshark music from the Internet and sends it over stereo Bluetooth to the controller, which in turn converts the music to an FM RDS signal for playback through the vehicle's FM radio.

 Grooveshark's subscription service lets users select songs for playback on demand by title, artist and album.

From the Grooveshark controller, users can launch the Internet radio app, skips among presets, control play/pause, browse playlists in the cloud, skip songs on a playlist, and add songs to a favorites list.

 The Grooveshark kit is similar to Livio's own $119-suggested Internet radio car kit, which streams 45,000 Internet radio stations via Bluetooth to a vehicle's FM radio from an iPhone. On the Livio kit, users can hit a swipe button to get Livio's app to recommend a similar station. Livio's kit, which became available earlier this year, is sold through such retailers as RadioShack and Amazon.


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