According to Macsimum News, Apple has filed a patent for a new wireless VHF/FM/RDS transmitter that will be added to the iPod. What does this mean? Basically, you will be able to send not only your tunes wireless to your RDS compatible radio, but the ID3 tags as well. Macsimum points out that the Hitachi HTD-K185 is currently equipped with RDS technology as a point of example. We should probably expect to see the RDS compatible radios in Apple’s recently announced iPod intergrated car partners such as Acura, Volkswagen, and Audi by 2006. Macsimum also points out the opportunity for voice activated management/control of the iPod in 2006 (patent filed under Voice-activated media management system for the iPod).
In case you are baffled to what RDS is, then let’s do a little explanation. Again this is according to the guys over at Macsimum, but I think they do a good job of explaining.
The basic concept behind RDS is that each FM radio station is given a set bandwidth which can be used for its broadcasting. However, most stations do not use all of their bandwidth, and the spare bandwidth is usually wasted. Therefore, RDS uses this wasted bandwidth for transmitting a low bit rate FM radio based data signal by being modulated into the radio station signal and transmitted along side it. This arrangement is very cost effective since the existing transmitting towers can be used with very little modification.
My remaining concern is similar to the issues found in the iTrips (FM Modulators). Often the radio broadcasts bleed into the FM modulators signal as they piggy backs on a frequency. In LA this is a constant problem due to the large number of stations. Furthermore, my vehicles antenna for the radio is at the rear of the vehicle, making it more challenging for an FM modulator to work. Lastly, polarized windows also pose a problem for FM modulators as they don’t allow the signal out. I don’t understand if this RDS technology will be impacted by these factors, but please, speak up and speak loud if you have experience with.