Personalized Audio Information Services

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  • Overview
  • Additional Facts
  • XML Schema
  • PAIS HD Radio Receiver
  • News
  • Resources


NPR Labs has demonstrated its Personalized Audio Information Services (PAIS) initiative, a new digital service which allows blind and low-vision listeners of Radio Reading Services (RRS) to capture individual stories by favorite topic for later on-demand listening. The project was funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. PAIS technology, along with captioned radio and other initiatives, are part of an NPR Labs initiative to provide radio service to unserved and under-served communities.

Additional Facts

  • PAIS Categories are described in XML tags, which are easily embedded and transmitted within the HD Radio signal.
  • A PAIS-enabled HD Radio Receiver gives the listener a menu from which to choose favorite PAIS categories, such as "Sports in Local and Regional Newspapers" or "Fiction Books" or most popularly: "Grocery Ads".
  • When the PAIS radio receives a new PAIS tag at the beginning of a program, it compares it against the listener's favorites, and if there's a match, immediately begins to record the program.
  • Three PAIS tags are reserved for emergency, warning, and informational messages; the PAIS receiver automatically begins recording these messages whenever they are received; these tags are for alerting the listener to events where imminent dangers exist to life and property.
  • Extensive user testing was conducted to design a user interface for blind and low vision subjects that allowed them to navigate and choose selections of favorite categories, listen to their captured audio programs, delete old programs, change the voice prompt characteristics, and add and remove favorite categories.
  • A PAIS computer-based simulator implemented the receiver User Interface design, providing context through voice prompts and a multi-tiered menu structure. The UI was successively updated after each round of user testing to incorporate the user's desires and features.
  • NPR Labs created Radio Reading Service simulator software to demonstrate how PAIS tags could be embedded within popular audio formats, and how those tags could be sent locally or remotely over the public Internet to the station's HD Radio equipment. The simulator integrates an external keypad to trigger PAIS tags manually, as in the case when a RRS Station is reading material "live" or when an emergency message needs to be sent.
  • WireReady, Inc. a manufacturer of popular automation software for Radio Reading Services stations, implemented PAIS in its recent software release. The PAIS functionality is available as an add-on option.

XML Schema

This is the XML Schema that describes the form and structure of the PAIS tags. Of note is the "cat" element; this would be one of 109 categories describing the current PAIS program being broadcast.

Screen shot of XML Scheme that describes the form and structure of the PAIS tags.

PAIS HD Radio Receiver

NPR Labs created and demonstrated a working PAIS HD Radio Receiver, and demonstrated the PAIS system at the 2010 NAB Radio Show in Washington, DC. The microcontroller code that implements PAIS functionality on the receiver was developed entirely at NPR Labs, and uses only 10kB of FLASH memory.

Image of a PAIS HD Radio Receiver


For PAIS, NPR Labs Seeks Receiver Makers’ Input
Radio World

Personalized Radio Explained
By: Rich Rarey
Radio World