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Gracenote To Extend CD-Recognition Technology

Berkeley, Calif. – Gracenote, developer of the CDDB CD-recognition database, is getting ready to offer a DVD-recognition database and a waveform-analysis technology.

This new technology will extend the music database’s capabilities to a greater variety of consumer electronics products, including analog radios.

Gracenote’s CDDB (Compact Disc Database) Music Recognition Service makes it possible for Internet-connected PCs, CD megachangers, and hard-drive music jukeboxes to download album and track names, artist names, and genre on a track-by-track basis without manually typing in the information. Consumers use the stored data to sort and select songs by album, artist, or genre.

Some products, such as HDD-equipped car stereos, use an embedded version of the database, making an Internet connection unnecessary.

The CDDB database uses a disc’s Table of Contents (TOC) as a fingerprint to identify a particular disc and its songs. The TOC describes a CD’s length, number of tracks, and track lengths.

By the end of the third quarter, said marketing director Ross Blanchard, Gracenote will offer its Video ID database technology to suppliers for inclusion in DVD-Video megachangers), carousel changers, and single-disc players. In the late second quarter or early third, Gracenote will offer suppliers its waveform-analysis technology, which identifies a song by its analog-wave ‘fingerprint’ and would enable consumers to retrieve song and album titles and other information when ripping songs from vinyl discs or prerecorded analog tapes. It could also identify songs heard over an analog radio.

Wave ID is the first consumer product incorporating waveform-analysis technology will probably be PC ripping software that will likely be available in the fourth quarter, Blanchard said. PCs equipped with the software will be able to identify the waveforms of songs ripped from such analog sources as turntables and cassette decks or played through the analog outputs of CD players and changers. The PC could then download album and artist information from the CDDB site.

The ability to identify songs played through a CD player’s analog outputs would also increase the usefulness of hard-disc-drive (HDD) headphone portables that feature built-in ripping/encoding software, Blanchard said. That’s because the digital outputs of home and portable CD players, and most CD megachangers, don’t spit out a CD’s table of contents (TOC) data, he said.

Also in the future, analog radios equipped with waveform-analysis technology an embedded database could incorporate a ‘name it’ button that consumers could press to identify a song they’re hearing.

Gracenote will also combine waveform-recognition technology with its Clean technology to identify digital songs that consumers previously ripped or downloaded from multiple sources. The combined technologies will then fill in missing data so the songs can be organized, sorted and displayed in a uniform way. Such songs could have been ripped in pre-CDDB days, obtained through file-sharing programs, or downloaded legitimately from authorized services, Blanchard said. Authorized sites, he noted, sometimes include only rudimentary genres and don’t always provide an album’s year. Clean technology will also let consumers sort by an artists first or last name.

In the U.S., Gracenote’s current music-recognition technology appears in almost all of the PC software shipped with portable HDD and flash-memory music players and in PC software shipped with car HDD stereo systems from Kenwood, Phat Noise, and Rockford Fosgate, Blanchard said. It also appears in select car and home HDD systems. Sony and Pioneer in-dash car HDD/CD rippers and home servers from Yamaha and SONICblue, for example, feature Gracenote’s embedded database. Other home servers connect to Gracenote’s on-line database. Those products include six to eight home HDD music servers based on the iMerge’s platform and home HDD servers from Kenwood, Escient, and SONICblue.

The Phat Noise system also became available as a car-dealer-installed option in Audis and Volkswagens beginning this year.

Video ID would identify a DVD by its Table of Programming (TOP). In megachanger applications, it would let users select discs by title, genre, actor, director, rating, and release year. In PC applications, it would enable consumers to more easily compile a PC-based database of the discs in their DVD library. And in PC and single-disc component applications, it would enable consumers to access information that might not be included in a disc’s menu or bonus materials, including cover art, release year, and chapter titles.

Disc identification would also enable parents to block the playback of select titles on single-disc players and changers.

In PVR applications, Video ID could present a unified menu of recorded TV programs and discs in DVD megachangers.

In other developments, new CEO Craig Palmer said the company would be cash-flow-positive by the end of the 2003 calendar year and might achieve that goal by the end of the second quarter. The company has licensed its technology to about 30 CE suppliers worldwide, about double the number a year ago.