Thursday, December 31, 2020

AlgorKorea creates innovative DRM solutions

After having seen some DRM enthusiasts posting reception reports using the AlgorKorea’s DRM receiver software, I reached out to its CTO Dr. Soon Jarng for an interview.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I got a bachelor's degree in electronics engineering from Korea, a medical master's degree in physiology from the UK and a doctorate degree in electrical and electronic engineering from the UK. I have been a professor of electronic engineering for more than 26 years at the engineering college in Korea, and am now focusing on the development of digital signal processing algorithms for hearing aids and firmware for microchips in the US.

What is your inspiration?

The desire to spread the gospel of Christ to the world through broadcasting was the motivation for the study, and the program is being developed with the talent and curiosity that God provides every day.

Please tell us more about AlgorKorea:

While serving as a professor in Korea, I had an opportunity to promote hearing aid research & development and commercialization, and I founded a company (AlgorKorea) and experienced extensive experience in manufacturing and selling hearing aids. After retiring as a professor and moving to the United States, I changed the type of hearing aid manufacturing and sales to the type of hearing aid core firmware and app development.

It is a type of business that supplies software to manufacturing companies that need hearing aid firmware and apps that we develop.

I had some knowledge of digital communication theory from my experience teaching communication engineering in the Department of Electronics Engineering. At the same time, continuous research was conducted on FM (Frequency Modulation) hearing aids and speech recognition/translation/synthesis as special hearing aids required for people with profound hearing loss or deaf.

How did you get involved in DRM application development?

After hearing that the Gospel is broadcasted all over the world through KTWR, we are volunteering that anyone who have a smartphone/PC and an RTL-SDR dongle to use free DRM decoding app (DRM+ SDR, DRM+ FM) or PC program (DRM4WIN). We want more than 600 million people around the world to listen and watch Christian broadcasts through our free app. In addition, in order to avoid the problem of paid patent license of DRM technology, OPUS encoder/decoder is used instead of the existing AAC encoder/decoder. To realize the OPUS encoder in the DRM field, a separate DRM content server called DRMTX4WIN (for PC) has been developed and distributed for free.

Instead of the existing FM hearing aids that deliver sound only in alternative schools for the deaf/hearing impaired, DRM broadcasting and reception technology has been applied as an effective method of delivering text, pictures, files, and the web in addition to sound.

Tell us about your software applications:

In 2019, we mainly developed smartphone apps (DRM+ SDR, DRM+ MSi, DRM+ FM) for receiving DRM broadcasts, and in 2020, intensively developed PC versions of DRM content server (DRMTX4WIN) and reception program (DRM4WIN).

DRM content server (DRMTX4WIN) is a program that generates DRM signals by inputting audio, text, pictures, files, and web, and receiving program (DRM4WIN) decodes DRM signals to sound, text, picture, file, and web.

Our DRM receiving app (DRM+ SDR, DRM+ MSi) can decode HE-AAC, xHE-AAC compressed signals, but the newly developed DRMTX4WIN, DRM4WIN and DRM+ FM apps only use OPUS encoding (compression) and decoding (decompression) function.

Although HE-AAC and xHE-AAC decoding technologies are already secured, if these technologies are used, the problem of patent licenses prevents DRM apps from becoming free and spreading all over the world. As a result, only OPUS decoding technology is being applied.

This is because, when considering consumers around the world, most consumers prefer free apps. DRM standard came out as a means to replace the existing analog radio broadcasting with digital radio broadcasting, but in the basic specification of compression and decompression of audio, the barrier of patent license is preventing the globalization of DRM broadcasting.

While conducting DRM-related research, DRM broadcasting technology can be applied not only to alternative FM hearing aids, but also to remote broadcasting education in areas where the Internet is not available. In addition to analog communication, digital communication can be applied to send and receive texts and files among amateur ham radio individuals.

What about your plans for DRM broadcast testing?

With this possibility in mind, we are planning to apply for the FCC's license in 2021 for pioneering educational broadcasts on the JAMA campus.

Can you give a brief description of JAMA and your connection to it?  

JAMA stands for Jesus Awakening Movement for America and aims to establish and operate a college that fosters Christian leaders. I am only praying for JAMA and there is no special connection. I've met the founder of JAMA several times. I want to try distance education through DRM broadcasting in Christian institutions such as JAMA, schools, churches, and organizations. DRM does not have a wide frequency band like DAB, so it has a limited transmission rate, but it can transmit text and files in addition to sound through an FM transceiver of a narrow frequency band, so it is expected to be used in areas without the Internet.

How can DRM enthusiasts and experimenters access your software and apps?

If you would like to know any other information about us, please send us your questions. DRM4WIN can be found here.

Thank you Dr. Soon Jarng for for an interesting and informative interview. I look forward to further DRM progress from AlgorKorea.