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Internet radio touts touchscreen interface

Sep 21, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 15 views

Pure announced a touchscreen-based Internet radio that also supports FM, DAB, and podcast playback. The Sensia offers a 5.7-inch, 640 x 480 color touchscreen, WiFi, and network media streaming, and includes touch-based apps like weather, news, Picasa, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Sensia is the next-generation update to the Evoke Flow Internet radio (pictured at right), which was announced in August 2008. Like the Evoke Flow, which was limited to a small, non-touch OLED display, the Sensia runs on embedded Linux, is equipped with WiFi, and offers FM and DAB playback.

Like the earlier radio, the Sensia provides media streaming from a connected PC, and is paired with Pure's Internet search portal called the Pure Lounge. The Sensia supports podcasts, in addition to FM and DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), a technology with which Pure claims to be the world leader. The DAB format is the leading digital audio broadcast format in the U.K., and is now said to be spreading throughout Europe.

The Sensia is also "DAB+-ready," with DAB+ support coming in a future software upgrade, says Pure. DAB+, which adopts the AAC+ audio codec, has been rolled out in some countries, but is not likely to appear in the U.K. for several years, according to the Imagination Technologies Group, Pure's parent company.

Pure's Sensia

(Click to enlarge)

According to a Pure spokesperson, the Sensia runs Linux on the Frontier Chorus 2, a product of the fabless semiconductor company Frontier Silicon. The Chorus 2 SoC is billed as a DAB/DAB+/T-DMB programmable baseband receiver, enabling audio, video, and data services for portable digital radios and other handheld devices (see diagram below). The Chorus 2 SoC also ships with a software suite designed for streaming Internet radio and music file-based audio systems, Frontier Silicon says.

Frontier Silicon Chorus 2 block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The Chorus 2 incorporates the Meta122 CPU developed by Imagination Technologies. Announced in 2005, the Meta122 is a multi-threaded 32-bit RISC CPU with extensive DSP capabilities. Touted as being able to execute multiple DSP tasks without cross-task interference, the CPU is said to offer latency-immune architecture, as well as deterministic real-time performance. The CPU is based on Imagination Technologies'  Meta family of cores (see diagram below).

Imagination Technologies' Meta2 block diagram

Because the Meta architecture features on-die cache and a memory management unit (MMU), complete with virtual memory support, the chip can be programmed with Linux. Meta chips can run Linux, Nucleus, and other real-time operating systems (RTOSes), including Imagination Technologies' own MeOS RTOS.

According to Imagination Technologies, the Sensia also incorporates its Ensigma communications IP. The Ensigma UCCP IP is said to support WiFi, analog and digital TV, mobile TV, and digital and analog radio broadcast standards.

The Sensia goes with the flow

While the Evoke Flow reflected a '40s retro design, complete with large analog dials, the Sensia is an egg-shaped device that looks more like a futuristic vision from the '50s or '60s. The 11.0 x 6.5 x 7.1-inch unit is offered in red, yellow, black, and white designs, and a stand is supplied that provides different viewing angles. An optional rechargeable Pure ChargePak battery pack is said to offer up to 10 hours of listening time.

Sensia in red with remote

The Sensia offers Pure's Flow architecture, which provides "a two-way flow of information between the radio, the web portal, and the broadcaster," says Pure. The Sensia also offers Pure's "Clearsound" stereo audio technology, along with three-inch stereo speakers with 30W RMS power, and a headphone socket, says Pure.

The WiFi-enabled device is said to ship with an RF remote control that can operate from ten meters away, without requiring line of site, says the company. Other features include an alarm, timers, and an input for an iPod or MP3 player.

The touch interface provided for the Sensia's 5.7-inch, 640 x 480 display lets users scroll and spin lists, tap to select items, as well as slide and swipe controls to change views, says Pure. The screen is divided into different panels for viewing apps, displaying station slideshows or album artwork, and scrolling lists of radio stations or locally stored music. Other panels include a "now playing" panel, as well as a touchscreen control bar for operating the device, says the company.

General-purpose apps are also provided, offering access to services such as weather, news, Picasa, Facebook, Twitter, and "DAB broadcast slideshows," says the company.

The Sensia's main touch interface (left) and alarm settings (right)

(Click to enlarge)

A search engine helps locate stations and podcasts, providing search by any combination of station name, genre, location, language, and audio quality. Listeners can also set up favorites lists and schedules, and with supporting radio broadcasts, can "listen again" to programs that were missed, says Pure.

Media streaming for media stored on local network devices is available with a dedicated UPnP server or a Windows or Mac desktop running UPnP server software. The latter is available for download at Pure's Internet radio site, called the Lounge, which offers search and organization features for Internet radio and podcasts, as well as Pure's own library of mood and background audio tracks. It's said users can interact directly with the Lounge using the Sensia, or else use a desktop web browser.

Specifications listed for the Sensia include:

  • Processor — Frontier Chorus 2 SoC with Imagination Technologies' Meta22 CPU and Ensigma IP
  • Display — 5.7-inch capacitive, 640 x 480, TFT touchscreen
  • WiFi — 802.11b/g with WEP and WPA/WPA2 encryption
  • DAB :
    • Band III 174-240MHz
    • ETSI EN 300 401 compliant
    • Supports DAB transmission modes 1-4, including 192Kbps mode
    • Upgradable to DAB+
  • FM — 87.5-108MHz; supports FM RDS and RadioText
  • Speakers — 2 x full-range 3-inch stereo drive units; 15 Watt RMS per channel; 30W RMS total
  • I/O:
    • 3.5mm line-in
    • 3.5mm headphone socket
    • 1 x mini-B type USB for product upgrades
  • Streaming audio formats — WMA (Standard V9), WAV, AAC, MP3, MP2, Real Audio; requires UPnP server
  • Other features:
    • RF remote control
    • Standby button
    • Presets — 30 DAB; 10 FM; 10 Internet radio (unlimited with registration at the Lounge)
  • Power — 14.3V DC power adapter socket (230/110V supplied); connector to optional ChargePak E1 (up to 10 hours per charge)
  • Dimensions — 6.5 x 11.0 x 7.1 inches (166 x 280 x 180mm)
  • Weight: 4.2 lbs (1.9 Kg) without ChargePak
  • Operating system — Linux

States Hossein Yassaie, Imagination Technologies' CEO, "We have integrated broadcast with new technologies for internet connectivity and content delivery, under a state-of-the-art user interface, which will create a channel for consumers to communicate across social media and with the broadcasters, without any need for PCs."


Sensia will be available in the fourth quarter for 250 British Pounds (about $405 U.S.), including VAT. More information on the Sensia may be found here and here.

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