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iBiquity Designs HD Radio Car Adapter

Las Vegas — HD Radio inventor iBiquity has devised a way to turn any satellite-radio-ready OEM or after-market car stereo into an HD Radio that receives digital AM and FM broadcasts.

The intent is to give consumers an opportunity to add HD Radio to their existing car stereo system without replacing their existing head unit either for a model with integrated HD Radio and for a Kenwood, Alpine or Eclipse head unit that controls a brand-dedicated outboard HD Radio tuner.

iBiquity developed a reference design that uses already-available chipsets and consists of a small universal HD Radio tuner box, a separate protocol converter and an adapter cable. Installers would stock a single tuner and 10 to 15 protocol converters, which would enable the tuner to be controlled from a variety of satellite-ready OEM and after-market radios. The head units would be able to display HD Radio data such as song titles. The converter would connect via an adapter cable to the CD changer input of a satellite-ready head unit. Dealers would stock different cables for different satellite-ready radios.

The company is talking to manufacturers to make the packages available for the summer, and it’s targeting a retail of about $249 to $299 for a package consisting of the tuner, one protocol converter and one adapter cable, said COO Jeff Jury.

To distribute the devices, iBiquity is “leaning toward” an XM-Direct-style program in which one company would market the products nationwide, he said.

Later on, the company plans a protocol adapter with built-in FM modulator to provide HD Radio tuner control from any head unit equipped with FM Radio Data System (RDS) technology, which allows analog FM stations to send text data such as song titles to head units. The RDS head units would also be able to display HD Radio text.

In another development, Dice plans second-quarter availability of a single-box add-on solution combining protocol converter and HD Radio tuner. HD Radio data would be displayed on some head units’ displays, but other head units would require a Dice-supplied display screen, said Jury. Dice wants to team with automakers to offer the solutions as factory-authorized car-dealer-installed options, but Dice is also considering after-market distribution, he said.

In other developments:

  • iBiquity announced that six of the largest Chinese OEM/ODM manufacturers have licensed HD Radio technology. “The combination of our existing reference designs, and the speed at which these companies can manufacture products, makes it possible that we will see HD Radio receivers reach mass market retailers by summer 2006,” Jury said.
  • New aftermarket car products are bringing the price of HD Radio down. JVC is reducing its price for a CD-receiver with integrated HD Radio to a suggested $329 from $849 with the launch of a new CD-receiver. And Alpine, which already offers a $1,600 DVD-receiver with integrated HD Radio, has launched an outboard tuner at a suggested $250 to connect to multiple Alpine head units at a suggested $230 to $1,200.