INDUSTRY & PRODUCT NEWS


New Wireless Gecko Bluetooth 5-Compliant SoCs Help Developers Tackle Multiprotocol Design Challenges
Silicon Labs announced a major expansion of its Wireless Gecko system-on-chip (SoC) portfolio, making it easier for developers of all skill levels to add versatile multiprotocol switching capabilities to increasingly complex applications. The new EFR32xG12 SoCs support a broader range of multiprotocol, multiband use cases for home automation, connected lighting, wearables, and industrial applications Read More


Sennheiser and Pink Floyd Create Unique Immersive Live Experience of Comfortably Numb Live in AMBEO 3D
The mastermind producers behind the brand new AMBEO Mix for The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains, Senior Sound Engineers Simon Rhodes and Simon Franglen came together to remix the last live performance of Pink Floyd. Using the AMBEO 3D Audio Technology in the Abbey Road Studio Two, they are working on a sound experience that enables the audience to hear more details of the song and walk around inside the music of Pink Floyd.   Read More

New 3.5 mm Jack Interface Lets Smart Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) Headsets Run Battery-Free
Don't dismiss the mini-jack just yet! ams announced the launch of a technology that enables noise-cancelling headsets with a four-pole 3.5 mm jack to operate for the first time without a dedicated battery power supply. The new Accessory Communication Interface (ACI), invented by ams, uses a single wire to carry power and bidirectional data as well as digital audio signals, enabling small form factor noise cancellation headsets while offering the flexibility to include sensors, LEDs, and displays.   Read More


STMicroelectronics Teams with DSP Concepts to Give STM32 Users Free Access to Advanced Audio Design Tool
The new ST-AudioWeaver free development tool from STMicroelectronics streamlines and simplifies development of embedded audio applications for richer user interfaces in smart devices using 32-bit ARM Cortex-M based STM32 microcontrollers. Developed in cooperation with DSP Concepts, creator of the Audio Weaver design suite, the tool contains library of 160 audio algorithms, with GUI for configuring and fine-tuning.    Read More
 

Swiss Companies Introduce the World Smallest Bluetooth Chip
Integrated in the "Swiss Silicon Valley," the Swatch Group introduced a new Bluetooth IC, designed 100% by EM Microelectronic, Swatch Group R & D and the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM). The EM9304 Bluetooth chip is already qualified against the new Bluetooth Version 5.0 standard. MSC Technologies, a company of Avnet, is already distributing the solution.   Read More


Tymphany to Acquire Bang & Olufsen Engineering and Manufacturing Operation in Czech Republic
Tymphany, a premier audio ODM, announced the acquisition of an engineering and manufacturing operation in the Czech Republic from Bang & Olufsen. According to the company, this acquisition will accelerate Tymphany's growth as an ODM of premium consumer and professional audio systems and acoustic solutions. Tymphany's global footprint will expand to four manufacturing locations and five audio product engineering centers.  Read More


NTi Audio Announces Sound Insulation PC Software and Updated Sound Level Measurement Report for XL2
NTi Audio launched a new professional software package for determining the sound insulation of buildings measured with its XL2 Sound Level Meter. The "Sound Insulation Reporter" PC software generates simple yet detailed sound measurement reports that comply with existing standards, ideal for acoustic consultants. The newly-designed SLM Reporting Tool presents the results of measurements recorded with the XL2 in a flexible measurement report.   Read More


Sound United Acquires Denon, Marantz, and Boston Acoustics
Sound United, parent company to Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, and Polk BOOM, announced it has completed the acquisition of the D+M Group, owner of the Denon, HEOS by Denon, Marantz, and Boston Acoustics brands. The D+M Group is the largest supplier of A/V receivers worldwide and a leader in wireless multi-room audio. Sound United is the largest supplier of loudspeakers in North America and a leading supplier of soundbars and wireless music systems.   Read More





João
Martins
Editor-in-Chief




Editor's Desk


Embedded Things Can Also Be Audio Things

While many of us on the US's East Coast are buried in snow or cursing the cold, rain, and floods on the West Coast, the sun shines over Nuremberg, Germany, where many thousands of engineering types gathered for another edition of Embedded World 2017. Reaching another milestone this year - more than 1,000 exhibitors - and with a sixth hall added to the show, Embedded World 2017 will be remembered by the "reality-blanket" that seems to have finally landed over the electronics industry, focusing on security for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Embedded World 2017 (March 14-16) happened in Nuremberg, Germany.
Why doesn't the US have a show like this?
 
No matter how optimistic all the market research on IoT is, all studies point out that security will be the main concern and potential threat to realizing its full promise. According to the latest market outlook and forecast from Research and Markets (IoT Chipset Market: Outlook and Forecasts 2017 - 2022), the IoT component market should reach $12.9 billion USD by 2022, propelled mainly by ICs used in interconnected systems and gateways, as much as in consumer electronic devices - from smartphones and tablets to wearables.
 
Another interesting report published during the show, from Retail Systems Research (RSR), underwritten by Software AG, highlights the impact of these technologies for retail and the potential of new "smart" services. The report reveals that 70% of retailers acknowledge that IoT will drastically change the way they do business in the next three years, but they also say that their existing infrastructure is not capable of supporting IoT and 47% say business leaders don't understand IoT's benefits. As Oliver Guy, Global Industry Director of Retail for Software AG, points out: "Customers... are starving for fresh offerings that enhance their shopping experience. For retailers, the biggest ROI comes when these technologies are connected together."
 
IoT is changing our lives. And IoT is audio too, even if we're getting tired of the term.
And speaking of IoT and the crazy forecasts about billions and trillions of connected devices, it also seems clear that everybody is getting tired of the term, which is the reason why the more serious companies attending this trade show prefer to avoid it and talk about M2M, Connected Devices, and more often, simply embedded electronics and systems - which is truly what this show is all about. Since we care about the fun stuff that is audio, we decided to wear our "audio-reality-enhancing systems" and have a look at the Embedded World trends and what they mean to the audio development community.
 
After all, everything that the electronics industry is currently bringing out are technologies that can be applied directly to audio devices, either in the mobile/portable category - wearable, portable speakers, portable players, etc. - or implemented in home systems, from whole-home audio to wireless speakers and all classes of audio peripherals (e.g., preamplifiers, amplifiers, signal processing, etc.). And precisely because of the electronics' industry focus on more power-efficient, higher bandwidth, and connected solutions, the entire component chain is directly or indirectly largely benefiting our industry.
 
The 15th edition of the world's leading exhibition for embedded system technologies attracted serious announcements from the international embedded community, introducing highly innovative new products and a very positive dialog about the direction things are moving. Even when the Embedded World exhibition and conference focuses on electronic displays, M2M, electronic displays, or safety and security, this means that audio manufacturers can benefit from more, smarter, and more robust choices for their designs in every application.
 
Among the conference topics and panel discussions at Embedded World 2017, the focus on security of connected devices is one of the most positive aspects. The audio industry increasingly depends upon connectivity in the age of streaming and wireless protocols, and the security of those connections is something that can only be addressed in larger forums, such as the mobile industry - as we've recently seen in the Mobile World Congress - or supported by the industry building critical protection for the IoT infrastructure. As much as we might dislike the "IoT" banner, the truth is that all audio devices are becoming just another piece of that same puzzle in the connected society.
 
And nothing is exciting the markets more than automotive these days. According to Research and Markets new "Connected Car Market by Hardware - Global Forecast to 2022" report, the usage of complex data processing, combined telematics, infotainment applications, and Wi-Fi in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connectivity is expected to drive the connected car market to grow from 5.1 million units in 2015 to 37.7 million units by 2022. Cloud-based services for music and other multimedia support such as video, games, and Internet browsing has led to an increase in the combined telematics and infotainment applications, the report says. Another study, from Technavio, focusing on vehicle sensors, forecasts the global autonomous vehicle sensors market to grow to 196.07 million units by 2021, at a CAGR of close to 115% over the forecast period, according to their latest report.
 
Another important - but not so obvious - trend, was the discussion of embedded Vision and image recognition systems. This is another step in the creation of augmented systems and artificial intelligence tools that have already propelled voice recognition and voice assistants - as Intel recently made clear with the acquisition of computer vision specialist, Mobileye. In the near future, consumers will be able to browse, discover, and select music on existing services using visual data (and we don't mean the obvious album covers) as much as searching for an artist name and text metadata.
 
As discussed in Nuremberg, embedded Vision is already a reality and is being perfected to power industrial robotics and mechanical engineering, as much as autonomous driving vehicles and even space exploration. In fact, computer vision is now helping us drive current generation vehicles and even for those who don't believe in autonomous driving, assistive technologies are already a critical element in machine operation, industrial applications, and transportation. As discussed at Embedded World 2017, computer vision is now the exciting new horizon for robotics, better user interfaces, and data intelligence.
 
Everything that you can find at a show like Embedded World is inspiring if you are designing new audio products. Embedded systems are the future, as our sister publication Circuit Cellar discusses every month.
More immediate, in the visual domain, is the importance of electronic displays, another focus at the Embedded World conference this year, highlighting important advances in OLEDs, AR/VR, and the latest touch screen trends for any application, including display measurement technology, interfaces, and display optimization. After browsing the quality of those small and large OLED, tactile, and sometimes flexible displays introduced in Nuremberg this year, I can tell many users will gladly upgrade their audio devices just to replace those boring monochromatic LCDs for these bright interactive 3-D surfaces.
 
In general, a show like Embedded World enables developers and manufacturers to discover the latest offerings in terms of standard components, but also the latest microcontrollers and connectivity platforms needed for current designs. And, judging from the many introductions from start-ups, including those nominated to the show's Embedded Award, we can expect great things. The award jury recognized solutions such as tactile feedback on touch display surfaces (Next HapticTouch), a new ultra-secure operating system for embedded platforms (PROVE&RUN ProvenCore-M), and an advanced coding tool for use in signal processing and motion control applications (Mathworks HDL Coder Native Floating Point).

New generation displays, sensors, and assistive systems for automotive were strong trends at Embedded World 2017. Automotive applications are a strong focus for the industry and those "car-audio" solutions are drastically changing.

As usual, our website is already highlighting technology and product announcements from Nuremberg, where we have selected some of the most relevant presentations in terms of MCUs and development platforms, wireless protocols, and specific audio applications. Of course, a primary focus for us at Embedded World 2017 was Bluetooth 5 platforms, with more than 80 new products listed in that specific category, from aconno, AMBER wireless, MSC Technologies, Silicon Labs, and many others.

One of the companies attending Embedded World 2017, ON Semiconductor, surprised us with impressive demonstrations around solutions and tools for the IoT, including wireless and USB Type-C power delivery/charging, as well as new Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) ultra-low power, multi-protocol SoCs. On Semi also introduced its new high-efficiency AirFuel Resonant-based wireless charging solutions for applications ranging from 2 W to 50 W, alongside a variety of USB Type-C wired power delivery solutions. The most impressive thing, however, as with many other of the large semiconductor vendors, was the availability of powerful new development kits, already featuring all imaginable tools a developer might require in terms of connectivity protocols, sensors, actuators... and security. Everything you need to increase efficiency and reduce the size, weight, and cost of new products. Yes... mostly focused on what they call IoT and wearables, but those can be audio too.

Fresh From the Bench
Correcting Driver Phase with Digital All-Pass Networks
By Richard K. Mains
 
Using all-pass networks for phase correction is not a new idea. For example, Dennis Colin has written an excellent article on using op amp all-pass circuits to correct for the phase nonlinearities produced by higher order crossovers. In his article, Colin notes that some of the phase corrections are not strictly realizable because they require non-causal or "crystal ball" behavior. However, he shows how they can be realized in an approximate sense by cascading sections. This article shows that in the digital domain, you can implement these "unrealizable" phase corrections in a very straightforward way, although there is still an approximation involved. Whereas Colin's article is primarily concerned with phase corrections for the crossover, my focus here is on compensating for phase nonlinearities in the driver. Even if you are not attempting to construct a "linear phase" speaker system, nonlinear phase behavior can still make it difficult to smoothly blend together the responses of the different drivers in the system. This article illustrates the problem for the midrange driver in a three-way system, which will be crossed over to a woofer on the low end and a tweeter on the high-end. This article was originally published in audioXpress, January 2011.   Read the Full Review Now Available Here

Voice  Coil Test Bench
The SB42FHCL75-6 15" Subwoofer from SB Acoustics 
By Vance Dickason
 
In this edition of Test Bench, we characterize the SB42FHCL75-6, a new 15" home audio subwoofer from OEM driver manufacturer SB Acoustics (SB is short for Sinar Baja, headquartered in Indonesia). The SB42FHCL75-6 has an impressive feature set that includes an eight-spoke cast-aluminum frame (four double spokes) that have four vents below the spider mounting shelf for cooling across the top plate. The cone assembly utilizes a stiff 15" cone that is comprised of a hard paper honeycomb covered and woven glass-fiber sandwich, a 4.25" diameter hard polypropylene dust cap, a 12 mm × 25 mm nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) high-excursion surround, a 6.5" diameter flat cloth spider, and silver tinsel lead wires that extend from about midpoint on the cone to both opposite mounted terminal sets. All this is driven by a 3" four layer voice coil wound with round copper wire on a non-conducting fiberglass former. The motor system powering the cone assembly utilizes two stacked 20-mm thick by 180-mm diameter ferrite magnets sandwiched between a polished 8-mm thick front plate and a polished shaped 10-mm tall T-yoke that incorporates a 50-mm diameter pole vent. Two sets of braided voice coil lead wires terminate to a pair of gold-plated terminals. This article was originally published in Voice Coil, April 2016.   Read the Full Article Online

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