Ten years after developing the first Luci Live broadcast software applications, Dutch company Technica Del Arte is establishing itself as a familiar brand name, offering customised broadcast applications and launching Luci Global, a revolutionary community radio app, reveals Marc Maes in an exclusive pre-IBC interview
“Today over 20,000 people are using Luci technology, either as broadcast correspondents, as individual contributors or in the cross-media business,” explains Florence Laout, head of Technica Del Arte’s sales department. “Throughout the continuous evolution of the Luci product series, we have devoted a lot of time to listening to what the people want – and carefully monitored the evolution of mobile technology."
Technica Del Arte founder and CEO Joost Bloemen (pictured) says that customisation is the solution for radio stations equipping their reporters with their own radio tools. He states that Luci’s capabilities will continue to grow organically, with more or less extra features being added, combining market demand with designers’ creativity.
“This approach resulted in Technica Del Arte winning a major tender for the development of a live broadcast application specifically customised for Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Radio (SR),” he says. “SR wants to equip its contributors and reporters with a user-friendly mobile tool for both recording and live reporting. The development of a Sveriges Radio live app for digital use is a logical step for a broadcaster leading on the innovation of radio.”
“Last year, we concluded a deal with German public broadcaster ARD for the development of a customised muPRO app," adds Laout. "The app will be officially launched this autumn and serves all of ARD’s broadcast and multimedia services. Today, we’re looking at some 5,000 users and a tailormade, fully customised application, complete with the broadcaster’s logo and imaging.”
The IBC 2015 launch of Luci Global – a radio community also based on the Luci Live principle – is expected to be another successful offering from Technica Del Arte based on Luci technology.
Luci Global allows professional radio reporters, correspondents and individual users to transmit live or recorded audio content to a variety of stations. “With Luci Global, we are going a step further," Laout explains. "Rather than a software licence, this is an app that works as a free download and install for anyone who wants to contribute audio to any station of their choice. The app includes a dynamic directory of destinations for reporters to stream their audio to, in full broadcast quality.
"Contributors can use their iPhones or iOS tablets with either the built-in microphone or with the MIKI cable, Technica Del Arte's microphone/pre-amp interface.”
The revenue model for Luci Global relies on the fact that Technica Del Arte is managing the destination directory via presets in the application. “The big difference with Luci is that the global application is based on station subscription rather than a licence fee,” says Bloemen. “From radio stations, web radio and thematic broadcasters to newspapers with multi-media platforms, all types of stations can become part of Luci Global destination directory.”
Technica Del Arte remotely adds broadcaster or destination details to the Luci Global app station list, although final on-air access is controlled by the subscribing broadcaster or other receiving party. “For between only €49 and €99 per month, depending the required connection type, stations are listed in the Community Radio Luci Global app,” explains Laout. “Stations will want to be on that list because Luci Global is a cost-cutting, ultra-compatible, mobile, high-quality app which allows them to receive streams from any audio content contributor.”
Bloemen (pictured, right, with Luci Global visible on hisiPhone) underlines that maximal compatibility is key for Luci Global: “Rather than pushing our clients to lock themselves into a proprietary vendor arrangement, they can continue to use their favourite third-party equipment like Comrex, Telos and Digigram codecs and/or gateway systems to receive the Luci content."
At the time of writing, with Luci Global still in the trial phase, Technica Del Arte has entered into a partnership with US-based Backbone Networks Corporation, creator of turnkey, online sports, news and talk radio stations, to also integrate Luci Global as a key element of their new service offering, Backbone Co-Host. When married together, the two services allow talk radio stations to produce live programming from anywhere in the world with minimal equipment and virtually no physical infrastructure.
Bloemen, a visionary who predicted radio's software evolution more than a decade ago, sees a future in setting up collaboration deals with big companies. With his background in high-end audio, his emphasis still lies on audio. “The last thing we want is Luci technology becoming a threat," he says. "Complementarity and compatibility are key in what we do, and we don’t aim to replace what exists and functions well."
“There will always be satellite trucks covering events or news, and radio will remain pretty much a technical medium, albeit more software-based,” concludes Laout. “It is our aim to offer reporters and contributors affordable, user-friendly tools to stream content to the media, and Luci is a step in that direction.”