Just in the past few years, the number of music sources in the car has mushroomed well beyond traditional AM/FM radio and physical media such as CDs that was the norm for decades. Songs from USB/iPod integration, cloud-connected streaming music services and downloaded to on-board hard drives have created a dizzying array of choices for drivers. And more potential for distraction when managing them or simply trying to find the perfect on-the-road soundtrack.
Gracenote, the premier provider of music metadata such as song info and album art, has created a new platform that promises to make it easier for users to manage and enjoy both online and offline media sources in the car. Called Entourage, Gracenote’s new technology relies on what the company calls “continuous audio fingerprinting of the songs” (similar to the way the way apps like Shazam and Soundhoud ID music tracks) for real-time music recognition.
“It’s a new fingerprinting technology that we’ve been using in TV second-screen applications called ACR, Automatic Content Recognition,” Ty Roberts, Gracenote’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, told C3 Report. “It’s a Shazam-like identification technology, but it’s different in that it’s running in the background all the time. It’s identifying what’s playing and grabbing metadata, album art and other info from the Gracenote server in the cloud and putting it on the display.”
In addition to providing metadata for sources such as AM and FM radio that may not have it, Entourage can also find similar music and create playlists by recognizing music based on sonic signatures across different sources. This allows drivers to request to hear similar songs based on criteria such as genre and mood and also add to an existing playlist regardless of source and all via a vehicle’s head unit.
Gracenote isn’t providing the interface, Roberts pointed out, only the data capability to automakers. “This allows the head unit designer to add this feature independent of the music service,” he said.
Gracenote has been working with Ford to use Entourage to analyze music played in a car over weeks or even months and then compare the songs against driving behavior and environmental conditions to create customized playlists based on these factors. Gracenote’s extensive metadata library will also allow automakers the flexibility to adapt Entourage to streaming services available only in a specific region or country.
Gracenote estimates that this technology will be available for 2017 model year cars. “We’re trying to solve the consumer problem of having easier access to all the all the [media sources] that are on a head unit,” Roberts added.
And if it works as promised, Entourage can’t come soon enough since we welcome any technology that can make all the various music sources available in the car easier to manage and less distracting.