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Voice Controlled Radio Enabling broadcast reception for Smart Speakers

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Voice Controlled Radio Enabling broadcast reception for Smart Speakers
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The EBU and NAB co-funded a project to create a demonstrator for a radio device able to be entirely controlled by voice. This demonstrates the concept of the 'Single Voice Service List', and uses openly-standardized metadata from the broadcaster (using RadioDNS lookup, ETSI 103 270, and the Service and Programme Information data, ETSI TS 102 818) to automatically select between DAB+/IP/FM. The project was implemented by hacking the underlying Alexa Voice Service SDK.
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okay so we start again with another
lighting talk this time by EB use a been poor who's speaking about smart radio for smart devices hi can everyone hear me the back No thank you villain okay so this is just a bit of mental a mental sorbet between during or after lunch very quick lightning talk is to discuss something about smart speakers now something that as the radio guy for EB you that I've been looking at for quite a long time it's something that our members are very involved with but this is about really how smart speakers and broadcast come together so a little bit of background to apologies with the transition a little bit history about smart speakers kind of started around 2015 we saw Amazon Alexa Google mini Google home all these are the platforms including Apple Sano's and I think in 2018 where this timeline ends Amazon were releasing some sort of voice controlled microwave which I thought was a joke but isn't in terms of sales various wild projections happen but essentially we're looking at we were looking at 33 million devices by the in 2017 about the same in 2018 and massive growth and smart speakers by about 2022 and 2024 is a huge potential market but are they actually being used for so there's some statistics being done on this and there were two questions asked what reasons would you have to buy smart speaker and what do you actually use your smart speaker for so a couple of statistics that we see that people buy them because they want to listen to music they want to ask questions of that needing is type and then we see what people actually do with them so they play music fantastic they get the weather they ask general questions they control devices they check the time so I've highlighted a few things here well I think a traditional things to do at radio radio is pretty good at this it's pretty good for music pretty good for entertainment gives you information it usually gives you a fairly good sound some might argue with that talk sports music selection these are all things that radio is strong at so we ask the question are these smart speakers the new radio devices and here's a statistic which is 39 percent of respondents replace their am/fm radio with a smart speaker in the US they actually get rid of their exist devices and changed that for a smart speaker another thing I think is important as well is that some people are placing TVs tablets and computers with smart speakers they want to minimize their screen time they prefer
talking to things which is revolutionary now smart speakers are great they're very useful people buy them they're very cheap but there's one big problem with smart speakers in that they only do internet streaming they don't do broadcast reception on the whole broadcast is still certainly for eview members and broadcasters throughout the world a very important platform it's a vital platform the vast vast majority of current radio listening still goes over broadcast and for very good reasons has increased coverage it's more reliable and it's way more cost efficient we did a study last year or the year before which says that FM for instance is multiple-time cheaper than IP but da B is about six or seven times cheaper than FM is so really it's a much cheaper platform to deliver audio so could they do broadcast well we asked a few manufacturers to do this or to think about it and they do exist in different modules in a radio device but they tend to be moving between modules so an example of that is you ask your voice control radio to go into FM or DB mode and after that you can't control it so you're kind of shifting from mode using voice it's a very jarring user experience what about unified service list listeners don't care whether they're listening on FM DB internet streaming they just want to listen to a radio station we talked to some manufacturers they said it wasn't possible so we decided to do something ourselves so we
had this rather attractive looking blue radio which uses voice to pick a station you say Alexa because we chose Alexa that was it that was the quickest thing for us to hack very quickly play radio station play BBC Radio one play your eye one play radio pop in our example and the radio responds back to sync playing radio pop and it streams up the clever
thing I think about this radio is it you don't care about how you listen to the radio it automatically selects itself the best way to listen to the station be that FM da b or IP and it uses data that's controlled by the broadcaster it uses openly standardised metadata which is controlled directly by the broadcaster now there's a video here but
I've only got 10 minutes a very quick blast through so I'm going to skip over
that but there is a youtube link there if you want to see it I haven't done a QR code because I'm not that clever how does it
work in the background what happens is you ask your radio sir you asked your radio device to play a radio station it then goes to the Alexa voice service so again we've kind of hacked around this a little bit what Alexa voice service does by default is it goes and looks at something called tuning which is a streaming radio aggregator now what tuning does is it returns a URL but when the device has actually switched on what we've done in the background because our device has both the capabilities to receive broadcast and internet is we've done a band scan that is we've looked over all the frequencies that radio stations can exist in we've seen that there are radio stations at certain points we've done an IP lookup in the background using something called radio DNS which means you can go from a broadcast frequency you turn that into a DNS entry you then look at that DNS entry on the internet and pull back some metadata in XML and that XML data contains ways you can listen to a station it contains station names it contains things like logo branding it contains things like where the station is the geolocation gives you all sorts of interesting things to build a very new interesting radio experience on top of that so after this band scan we've got information about each and every radio station that we can see on FM and DB we know it exists we know that you can listen on different platforms so a local station we know you can listen on DB FM and IP so when tuning them return us this URL we match that against an internal database and if we see that this station has this Europe we can also see that you can listen to it on FM or da be using broadcast rather than switching to the IP stream we switch to broadcast so one thing about this
project is we did it in collaboration with a number of people we did it in collaboration with the NA B's pilot project and the NAB a kind of like the equivalent to the European broadcasting Union but in the US and they're very keen to promote listening on FM for the reasons that I've said before and it's a better way to listen to radio services it scales better for their members why
do we do this well smart speakers are obviously key devices for listening they actually represent a very small proportion of radio listening currently but automotive is an important part of radio listening and automotive manufacturers to put voice controls in their cars they're doing that they're doing that for Alexei they're doing that for Google they're doing it for all sorts of other things so we wanted to demonstrate to automotive manufacturers that hey you can use voice control to also control the really good broadcast hardware you've got in your cars you don't have to have an Alexa mode that you switch from a button on your on your dashboard you can actually use voice intelligently to use the existing broadcast reception to do better things apart from this closed voice control ecosystem also we
wanted to do this this because it's not new ground as I said it uses open standards it uses all these acronyms here which you can look up afterwards these are European standards they're used globally it's the same information that's broadcast over da B this is not new for broadcasters it's well implemented in chipsets manufacturers and client devices so just a scent to the coverage this is actually I've just put some figures up here we run services for our members that support this metadata this information it's freely openly available for instance 75% in Germany Austria 92% UK France Italy Spain all sorts of other countries in Europe but also the US and Australia this isn't like some sort of weird brexit scenario this is just me trying to fit everything onto the same map so
some next steps for us what a by the way this isn't actually vaporware we've got a device here which I can show you the insides of if you're interested we want to create some open-source software we don't do hackathons of this so we want to actually do a hackathon this summer somewhere where we can maybe make 15 of these devices and let people loose with them because one thing about this is we've kind of done the bare minimum the interface of this is not great it's pretty bog-standard it's pretty ropey but it does work so we want to create community around making this more functional more better what we've learned for this project we've actually done more with it one thing I learned from this is actually get something done rather than talking about metadata standards and good ideas for radios actually spending a month which is what we did making they're spending a month to make a system hacking around with the Elector sdk doing some recompiling and re signing and writing some Python code sticking on a Raspberry Pi for instance and then putting it inside a radio was actually a much more powerful demonstrator of what could be done for radio services so I think probably mostly at time but what I want to do is I want to share this and let people actually lose some making their own so the link here for github we've actually yesterday I think it was made the software fully open source and it's also got hardware designs it shows you how to create how to buy one of these radios hack it around with a dremel and actually make a radio for yourself thank you hi so if I understood correctly you're intercepting the tuning URL yeah why don't just building a scale a what they're a skill an Alexa skill so you can do everything and properly integrate it with Alexa that's the way they plant it and that's the way you'll get it you'll get it certified eventually yeah so that might be the next step but the thing about the tuning interfaces we found that it's very its baked in very low level it's the default way of doing things so we didn't want to say for instance play BBC Radio 1 using skill name we wanted to say play BBC Radio 1 because it's the natural action for a listener otherwise you have to teach them out to use a specific skill it will be nice if this this functionality was certified by Amazon or Google for instance that they actually could put some sort of broadcast API is in their SDKs that's kind of one of the aims of this project Thank You Berman thanks [Applause]