Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Universal codec to set sound free


A unique piece of software that will code any piece of recorded music, or speech, for any device, has been created by a team of European researchers.

The IST project, called ARDOR, developed a unique codec, short for COmpressor-DECompressor. Codecs are the engine under the hood of software media players.

"At the moment there are dozens of standardised sound codecs. Basically each application has its own dedicated codec and these codecs are optimised for specific input signals, such as speech or music, and specific constraints like bit rate," says Nicolle van Schijndel, ARDOR project coordinator and senior scientist at Philips Research Laboratories.

All the standardised codecs work on different devices and software, but it means a tune that plays on your mobile phone won’t play on your stereo.

This codec confusion emerged as software companies developed code that optimised music for particular devices: on a GSM or GPRS phone you need to make the file small, so it can downloaded quickly, but on a CD you can use huge files for each song.

The size of the file is determined by the bit-rate of the song, essentially the amount of data that defines all the notes in the song. The more data, the better the quality, but a CD-quality song might take a couple of hours download to a phone.

This is a problem. " Currently, there are two trends. Convergence of consumer electronics and mobile communications, and the emergence of ubiquitous, heterogeneous network environments," says van Schijndel. Networks formed from diverse and disparate devices, like mobile phones, PDAs and computers for example, cannot easily exchange media files and so lose a lot of their functionality.

That may change. ARDOR developed a generic codec that will, if adopted, enable it to code any piece of recorded music or speech for any device. The bit-rate, or file size of each piece of music, is adapted for each receiving device. It can work for everything from mobile phones to broadcasting.

The project was a success, generated a large number of publications and received intense interest from experts in the field. But more work needs to be done.

"The generic sound coding technology is not yet mature enough to contribute to standardisation, but parts of it may very well be included in future standards. We are closely following standardisation activities, such as MPEG4," says van Schijndel.

Another problem faced by the researchers is actually getting hardware and software companies to adopt their technology. Industry players often use their proprietary codecs as a competitive advantage by creating a captive audience.

"They will probably only do this if there is a clear need, for example, because their codecs do not deliver the required functionality such as interoperability. I expect this will be the case, but only future can tell," says van Schijndel.

History is on her side. In the past companies found that consumer resistance to captivity forced companies to either abandon proprietary standards or share their technology with others. One day music too will be set free.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht High Number of Science Enthusiasts in Switzerland
05.02.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Between filter bubbles, uneven visibility and transnationality
06.12.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>