The Rise of the Wireless Speaker | Cypress Semiconductor
The Rise of the Wireless Speaker
Having a speaker in every room of the house was a pipe dream not long ago. It was challenging just to get built-in, wired speakers for a surround sound home theater capable of allowing you to “feel” the movie. With the rise of the IoT, it is easier than ever to put a smart speaker in every room or to set up a surround sound home theater with wireless speakers.
In this blog we’ll explore the challenges associated with designing smart speakers, building a multichannel surround sound home theater, and the Cypress technology that eliminates the shortcomings of wireless speakers.
The Smart Speaker – Voice Recognition
There are a couple of challenges to making a smart speaker work. First, there is the ability to recognize the wake command and process the command (“play rock music” or “play my running playlist”). Second is the ability to stream the music.
Cypress has developed Local User Voice Identification (LUVI) technology for wake-up phrase detection and to process voice commands. LUVI – which can be customized to understand different voices and dialects – is the same type of technology that Amazon uses for the “Alexa” wake phrase and that Apple uses for “Hey Siri.”
Regardless of which level an OEM chooses, when the product is combined with Cypress’ Wireless Audio Stereo Synchronization (WASS), it is music to your ears — literally. WASS provides a robust wireless connection between the two independent earbuds. This enhances the synchronization between the left and right earbuds so that the beats of the drum hit the right spot, and the vocals come through exactly when you expect them. It also boosts receive sensitivity so that there are no more annoying connectivity issues when your phone isn’t perfectly placed.
The Smart Speaker – Music Streaming
Smart speakers typically use Wi-Fi® to connect to the internet for content and the network when synchronizing to play music throughout the house or in a surround sound home theater setup. Timing audio and video in a wireless setup is very difficult, and a major challenge is to eliminate the delay between the master and other devices to provide seamless audio quality. We’ve all experienced the frustration of audio that is not in sync with a playing video.
At Cypress we use a couple technologies to solve this challenge:
- Cypress’ Wi-Fi Precise Time Synchronization (CYNC)
It’s critical to minimize the streaming delay for simultaneous play in multi-channel or multicast connections between devices using Wi-Fi. Cypress provides a novel wireless technology with minimal latency that complies with the Wi-Fi time sync standards
- Beacon timestamp for time sync which is obtained from the TSF timer in the WLAN chip
- The TSF timer (1uS resolution) in the master WLAN chip as a grand master reference clock
- Reliable Multicast (RMC)
The RMC feature provides acknowledgement for multicasting data packets, so that specific multicasting data packets can be reliably delivered. RMC is proprietary Cypress technology in which a Wi-Fi transmitter chooses one of many Wi-Fi receivers to acknowledge frame reception. The transmitter chooses the receiver with the weakest RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) to acknowledge frames. The implementation uses an action frame containing a proprietary RMC information element to inform and enable the acknowledger. The implementation also contains RMC-specific Wi-Fi driver commands to set the multicast MAC address and to enable and disable RMC.
- Real Simultaneous Dual Band (RSDB)
Cypress’ RSDB is a single chip solution that provides fully concurrent and independent operations in 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands: Dual MAC, PHY, radio hardware blocks for concurrent operation, both channels are dual-band capable allowing antenna assignment flexibility.
Putting it all together to provide a flawless wireless surround sound
Wireless timing is especially difficult in a multichannel surround sound scenario.
In this image the Infrastructure access point (AP) – the router – is the previously mentioned master. It sends the audio to be played to the TV/sound bar which acts as a soft AP and in turn sends it to the other speakers represented on the right. The TV/sound bar gets the signal first and must be timed to sync with each device, based on how far away it is, to ensure flawless audio quality.
The convenience of wireless speakers is drawing a lot of interest from consumers, but if it fails to meet their expectations the first time, it will be hard to regain that trust. That’s why Cypress has focused on every detail to ensure that the user experience is pleasant, and the output is top-notch.
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