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Qualcomm’s new audio technologies aim to further support the smart speaker revolution

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Dawned by Amazon Echo, the smart speaker revolution is now upon us and hardware supply companies are not shying away from showing support to the same. A day before its voice and music developer conference in Shenzhen, Qualcomm has today taken the wraps off new reference designs and supporting audio technologies to allow third-party hardware makers to build their own smart speakers.

Called the Smart Audio Platform, Qualcomm has clubbed together core technologies to provide you with ‘a unique combination of processing capability, connectivity options, voice user interfaces, and premium audio technologies’ to further commercialize the smart speaker.

The leading chipmaker is not only providing hardware maker with a basic technology stack but a completely robust one, designed to deliver advanced multi-mic far-field voice capability. This is coupled with support for echo cancellation, noise suppression, and barge-in capability — enabling the speaker to catch your voice even in noisy environments. It even brings along other technologies such as AllPlay multi-room streaming technology, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth support.

Qualcomm is hyping up its AllPlay technology, which enables hardware makers to code their speakers to stream music in sync via multiple speakers across different rooms. This also makes it possible to stream different music using multiple speakers, and multi-channel wireless surround sound to multiple speakers. It also supports Qualcomm’s aptX HD audio technology, supporting 24-bit HD audio streaming.

Talking about the new audio technology stack, Anthony Murray, senior VP and GM, voice and music, Qualcomm Technologies in a statement said:

This platform is ideal for traditional speaker manufacturers wanting to make the move to a connected platform as it is designed to bring together all the necessary hardware, software, and tools needed to reduce development time.

It also offers a great degree of flexibility for those manufacturers who want to push the boundaries when it comes to possible future applications for smart speakers.

While companies like Amazon won’t adopt this new reference design, since it has an in-house platform, but other smaller hardware manufacturers who have been mulling to enter the ecosystem will definitely jump the ship. Major technology giants will continue to build on their existing platforms but third-party makers will be able to append their arsenal of products with a new addition — voice activated smart speaker.

Qualcomm believes that the first products built using the said reference design should make their way to the market by the end of this year. But, as the market catches up to the demand for voice-activated speakers, the chipmaker expects it to pick pace in 2018.

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