Updateable Message Personal CD Player - Gen. 3

Northwestern University, 2001 - $12,600

This E-Team from Northwestern University tried to create a new mass medium:messaging on recorded music discs. These messages took the form of ads or educational information. The approach had several advantages over competitive forms of media, such as radio and TV.

The system utilized two versions of CDs. One sold at full price and contained no advertisements. The other contained the same music at substantial discount but played only in an updateable message CD player. When the consumer purchased this latter version, updateable messages would play. Advertisers' messages subsidized the CDs and players, significantly lowering the retail cost for consumers.

The system sent messages in digital form via the subcarrier of the Northwestern University radio station, WNUR. Walkman-style CD players containing the E-Team's hardware module (a radio receiver, memory, and control circuitry) received the broadcast message. The messages were stored in the receiver, and the user controlled when the messages played.

This E-Team consisted of four undergraduate engineering and computer science students. They worked with an engineering professor on technical aspects of the project. The founder and president of SixtySeven Kilohertz, Inc., a company focused on developing commercial applications for the new bandwidth, assisted the team with marketing matters.