“WICED” Good! How True Wireless Audio Quality is Music to your Ears | Cypress Semiconductor
“WICED” Good! How True Wireless Audio Quality is Music to your Ears
Audio “quality” is traditionally a subjective topic. Some listeners may prefer deep bass to avoid the tinny sound that long plagued headphones, while others prefer a more balanced sound. As true wireless earbuds have emerged, one undisputed measurement of quality is rock-solid connectivity. The audio simply won’t sound good without a stable connection from the source (a phone, for example) and between the two separate earbuds.
The most common connectivity protocol used for wireless earbuds is Bluetooth®. The challenge is that consumers demand the smallest form-factor possible. While this is great from an aesthetics and comfort perspective, it also means there isn’t a lot of room to fit in all the technology that makes it work — including the antenna. Another major challenge of the small form-factor is battery life. If the battery only lasts a few hours, it results in a poor user-experience, and adoption will be low. To meet the bar for adoption, OEMs must overcome these technical challenges, while also differentiating their product from the competition.
Unfortunately for OEMs, there are a small number of chip sets that allow manufacturers to check these boxes, making it difficult to differentiate their products. That is where Cypress excels. Our CYW20721 with WICED® SDK provides dual-mode support for both Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth classic — the two dominant protocols used for earbud connectivity. By having a dual-mode chip, manufacturers can also optimize space usage. Cypress radios have the lowest power consumption on the market, which means longer battery life.
To offer OEMs better differentiation options than a one-size-fits-all single chip integrated solution, Cypress offers a “good, better, best” range of options. All three options utilize the CYW20721 Bluetooth radio/MCU chip allowing the OEM to insert their DSP Audio Codec of choice to provide one level of differentiation. From there, additional functionality is added to the “better” and “best” options to further distinguish a high-end product from the low end. The “better” option adds an additional external microphone and a feature such as an accelerometer.
The “best” option, while higher priced, can allow OEMs to market their earbuds to replace multiple wearable products, making it easier for consumers to justify spending the extra money. This is done by adding the PSoC® 4 MCU as a touch and sensor hub. The PSoC 4 MCU allows features such as heart rate monitoring and a gyroscope — functions typically served by a smartwatch — to be added, while the existing CYW20721 chip provides the compute power to make sense of the data. The addition of flash storage within the “best” option allows music to be saved directly to the earbuds. This is especially useful for outdoor activities such as running or hiking, where a carrying another device like a phone or an MP3 player may not be ideal.
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.
In addition to providing the best solution available, Cypress strives to offer its partners the easiest and fastest path to development. Cypress will make demo apps available to OEMs, so they can build and differentiate, while giving them the chassis that enables basic functionality such as making phone calls and pausing/playing/skipping music. It also provides voice recognition activation that will, for example, initiate an interaction with Apple’s Siri or Amazon Alexa.
Get in touch to learn more about our wireless audio solutions.