U.S. chip giant Qualcomm recently introduced the new Smart Audio Platform based on Qualcomm Snapdragon systems-on-chips (SoCs), aiming to facilitate the process of creating a smart speaker from scratch.
The platform runs on the Linux open source operating system and Google’s Android Things IoT platform. The platform also provides far-field microphone technology which can detect activation keywords, and beamforming that uses multiple microphones to pick up the user’s voice and enables echo cancellation.
Manufacturers that want to launch smart speakers normally need years of time to develop products. Once the product is out there, companies also need to make sure the software runs smoothly for years after the product release. This is a huge investment of time and effort for small companies that try to enter the smart speaker market.
With Qualcomm’s new platform, basic hardware components and software will be supported by Qualcomm as long as they are needed.
On the hardware, the platform offers high-end audio technology, including support for codecs like MP3, OggVorbis (Hi-Res 23-bit/192kHz), FLAC and ALAC. Qualcomm’s aptX HD audio technology is claimed to deliver 24-bit high-definition wireless audio via Bluetooth. For connectivity options, customers can select from dual-band 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi chips, Bluetooth 4.2 or Bluetooth Low Energy.
The platform also uses Qualcomm’s AllPlay audio system, which allows users to control multiple wireless speakers on the same network. However, there are only a few speakers that support the AllPlay standard, fewer than those supporting Google’s Cast Audio or Apple’s AirPlay.
On the software side, the platform will support Amazon Alexa Voice Service, Google Assistant and Android Things with Google Cast for Audio, which will be available later this year.
“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,” said Anthony Murray, the senior vice president and general manager of Voice and Music at Qualcomm, in a statement.
“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,” Murray added.
The Smart Audio Platform is expected to be available in the third qurater this year, while products developed from the platform may not hit the market until 2018.