While browsing on Forbes a few months ago, I came across an article by Moor Insights & Strategy founder and principal analysts Patrick Moorhead who described how recent wireless technologies are creating fully portable mobile devices. (I am an avid reader of Patrick’s articles and recommend you subscribe to his column on Forbes)
Since I always carry a laptop around to do my work, I was very excited about the prospect of a cable-free life. But it also gave me an idea: why stop at PCs? After all, our digital life is cluttered by so many cables: USB, audio, power, HDMI, DVI. I asked myself: What is Imagination doing to help?
I’ve tried to answer this question in article I wrote for i3 titled The ultimate untethered audio experience. i3 is a popular magazine edited by CEA and the official publication of CES 2014. In my expose, I decided to focus on another well-known cable generating machine: the home audio system.
I am very happy to report that Imagination has made significant progress in creating a viable alternative for consumers who want to build their own wireless audio system.
The audio streaming IP
Little over a year ago we introduced Caskeid, our patented and unique stream synchronisation IP. If you want to learn more about Caskeid, you can read my colleague Simon Forrest’s blog article and download his whitepaper from our website.
In essence, Caskeid is a very innovative hardware and software solution that exploits timing signals intrinsic to the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure in order to guarantee devices always maintain synchronicity. Since our technology is immune from latency within the network, it is the ultimate building block for a truly Wi-Fi Hi-Fi audio experience.
Wireless audio systems require very capable hardware; by 2016, more than 70% of new consumer audio devices are expected to be connected, up from less than 20% in 2012.
There are already hardware partners creating new and exciting possibilities for manufacturers and consumers. For example, Frontier Silicon is one of the leading providers of solutions for connected audio applications. The company licenses our Ensigma and Caskeid IP to build low-power wireless systems that allow device manufacturers to address a broad range of listening needs.
Frontier offers complete reference designs, modules and platforms for OEMs that want to reduce time to market and build cost-effective solutions. Their roadmap covers entry-level audio devices (docking and Bluetooth speakers) to fully-featured, Wi-Fi-based synchronized speakers that enable multi-room playback from any device and from the cloud. The platform pictured above is built around Frontier Silicon’s powerful Xenif audio processor.
Building a reliable software platform that companies can deploy easily has been one of our top priorities since day one. We have included several useful elements inside FlowCloud that help our partners deliver audio seamlessly; these elements are covered under the FlowAudio umbrella.
FlowAudio is the fabric that handles the interaction between wireless chips, devices, streaming apps, and cloud-based services. We have created an easy solution for streaming music to a wide range of devices as well as downloading purchased tracks.
FlowAudio has been designed to be very consumer-friendly, unlike some services that only work with streaming content. Our platform can therefore play both local and cloud content.
Manufacturers can integrate our FlowMusic streaming music service and internet radio directly into connected audio products such as digital radios, streaming music systems, speaker systems, TV/STB, media dongles, headphones, automotive and other products – also controllable from a smartphone or tablet.
Pure Connect is one example of an entertainment cloud service powered by FlowAudio and demonstrates the capabilities of the technology. Pure, a global leader in wireless music and radio systems, provides access to Pure Connect through its connected radios, wireless speakers and other consumer systems which ship in the UK, USA and other markets.
There are several device manufacturers that have joined Imagination in the quest for making wireless speakers a reality. The list includes many established leaders in the audio market, including Meridian Audio, Pure, PEAQ and Onkyo.
For example, the Pure Jongo wireless speaker range delivers the most flexible and accessible multi-room audio system on the market today. Jongo products use Caskeid to stream perfectly synchronised audio within a single or multi-room environment. One of the best things about this system is that you can grow it gradually; users can simply add extra Jongo speakers or adapters on the same Wi-Fi network to build their multi-room system.
PEAQ, one of Media-Saturn Group’s own brands, have recently announced a new range of MUNET wireless audio streaming systems using Caskeid. The MUNET audio range includes five products and supports JUKE, a music service with over 25 millions songs.
Onkyo also announced that it is working on a next-generation wireless audio streaming system which will use Caskeid and focus on High Quality Audio streaming. Onkyo devices based on Caskeid and FlowCloud will be compatible not only with each other, but also with other devices based on the same technologies, enabling users to enjoy the widest choice and best quality.
Finally, Meridian Audio is the latest company that has announced support for Caskeid. By combining our expertise in processors, connectivity and audio, the resulting products will deliver leading lossless audio for a superior listening experience.
The content providers
7digital is a digital music and radio content provider and a strategic partner in our ecosystem. 7digital offers a robust, scalable digital music platform and flexible APIs which are used to power comprehensive music and radio services for leading brands. Customers include companies such as Samsung, BlackBerry, Microsoft, Toshiba, HP, Acer, HTC, T-Mobile US and Sonos.
Imagination has a unique and solid proposition when it comes to wireless speakers. With decades of experience in the audio market, we’re offering a feature-rich, connected audio solution built around our IP technologies and a strong ecosystem, which creates tremendous value for our customers and consumers.
These solutions make it easy for consumers to build high-quality, fully wireless speakers.
Cables be gone!