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Fraunhofer announces low bitrate DRM video

Kevin Hilton 5 August 2010

German research institute Fraunhofer has developed technology that allows small-scale, low bitrate video services to be carried in Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) signals. Diveemo is a joint venture between Fraunhofer, Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia and NewStar Electronics and will be launched at IBC 2010 in September, writes Kevin Hilton. In the early days of DAB (digital audio broadcasting) "radio with pictures" was promoted as a benefit of the technology. Following arguments that this would create "cheap television" this angle was quietly dropped but DRM, the digital radio replacement for analogue AM services, has always been held up as a more versatile transmission carrier. Since its inception broadcasters have shown interest in DRM for carrying video and data services, as well as radio channels. Fraunhofer, Thomson and NewStar instigated development of Diveemo to carry low bit-rate video signals over a wide area, exploiting the long reach of DRM already used for international radio transmissions. Fraunhofer spokesman Matthais Rose says the technology is intended for educational video programming that reaches a broad geographic audience. "We are thinking of people who so far have not been able to receive television programmes," he explains. The video is carried alongside DRM radio signals and is encoded in the H.264 advanced MPEG4 compression format. Audio for the pictures is HE-AAC (high efficiency advanced audio coding), an MPEG4 system that is used for both DRM and DRM+ transmission. One or more audio streams can be carried alongside the video, which Rose says allows Diveemo to support sound-tracks in several languages. Diveemo will receive its official launch on Monday 13th September on the Thomson stand. Signals will be received on a new radio set with a built-in video screen, produced by NewStar. Diveemo is awaiting standardisation approval from ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) but Rose says the intention is to promote the technology during this year and into next. 

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