Radio has, for long, been an integral part of human life. But after several years of analog technology, the good old receiver that has benefitted generations is now turning digital. Many countries worldwide now mandate the use of digital radio broadcasting technology to take advantage of increased channels, better audio quality for long-distance reception, etc.
This is even more relevant as radio has become a regular part of cars, mobile phones, etc. From entertainment to emergency broadcasts and many more, these machines have a key role in both developing and developed economies.
However, the digital radio broadcast receiver solutions currently popular in the market, such as DRM/DRM+, DAB/DAB+, HD-Radio, and CDR, require dedicated chips to perform complex operations like signal demodulation and channel decoding in hardware. These make the end solution expensive due to high chip costs.
Such high costs prevent swift penetration into emerging and high-volume markets like India, the European Union, South Africa, and Indonesia, where governments have mandated the usage of digital broadcast technology as part of the shutdown of analog radio transmission in AM and FM bands.
This has created a need for a high-quality, cost-effective solution. And this is where India-based startup Inntot comes into play. Speaking to Digitimes Asia recently, Rajith Nair, CEO and MD of Inntot Technologies, explains that the company provides a digital radio broadcast receiver solution that is software-defined, patented, highly cost-effective, universal, and platform agnostic. This will enable a flourishing digital radio receiver market and subsequent transition from analog to digital broadcast radio receiver solutions.
A relief to automakers from chip shortage
Inntot provides several benefits to customers, but perhaps something quite relevant now is how it might offer carmakers and electronics manufacturers some respite from the semiconductor chip crunch.
“Since Inntot solution is software-based, customers are unaffected by the global shortage of chips,” Nair said. “It also reduces the need to manufacture carbon-intensive hardware. Inntot IP Solution supports digital radio reception in three form factors – automotive, consumer radios, and smartphones.”
Inntot holds four granted patents and another four pending patents that are expected to provide a substantial competitive advantage to the customer. Some of the biggest carmakers are already using Inntot solution in their latest models starting Q1 2022. The company’s other customers include chip makers, consumer electronics companies, and smartphone manufacturers.
Outmaneuvering chip shortage is just one of the benefits that Inntot offers. According to Nair, there are mainly five other major advantages:
1. Cost-effectiveness: SDR (Software Defined Radio) implementation with patented improvisations that reduce the cost of a digital radio receiver by at least $3-12.
2. Superior quality: Inntot’s SDR solution is superior due to its high-performing RF parameters and timing response. Inntot solution is optimized for low CPU usage as well. Two Indian and two US patents have been granted to Inntot in the digital radio broadcast domain alone.
3. Maintenance: Inntot’s solution is easy to maintain compared to hardware. Easy upgrades allow the addition of new features and issue resolution.
4. Universal & one-stop: Inntot solution is universal as it supports all digital radio standards and is a one-stop solution offering full radio receiver functionality to customers.
5. Quick time-to-market (TTM): Inntot solution allows quick TTM due to its highly reusable and platform-agnostic implementation.
Plans for global growth and expansion
Inntot plans to raise the next investment round to expand its solutions globally. The company aims to become the market leader for digital broadcast radio receiver solutions in the next five years and acquire much of the market for in-car and after-market solutions in the automotive segment besides creating a substantial presence in the upcoming segments of consumer electronics and smartphones.
“Inntot plans to further improvise its IP solutions for providing outstanding performance and further reduced costs,” Nair said. “Besides companies in the automotive infotainment domains (both Tier-1s and chip makers), consumer electronics companies and smartphone manufacturers are the potential customers for our solution.”
Speaking of potential partnerships, Nair added that Inntot could join hands with manufacturers in standalone radio or/and combo audio products and produce high-quality products. Inntot could help smartphone manufacturers support digital radio broadcast reception in their products without making hardware modifications.
Excellent option for global companies
Inntot offers a great opportunity for businesses like car and mobile phone manufacturers to reduce costs and improve their solutions.
The company has already received much appreciation, winning several awards like the National Technology Awards 2021 from the Government of India, NXP Tech Start-up Challenge 2022, and Industrial Innovation Awards 2017 of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) – for the Best Service Start-up and Top 10 Promising Start-ups of India.
In Nair’s own words, Inntot is all set to play a pivotal role in the “analog sunset” of AM and FM broadcast radio transmission, paving the way for digital broadcast radio transmission soon. With the right solution and timing, the company appears well on its way toward these goals. DigiTimes Asia