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September 24, 2012

Silicon Voice Processing Moving to Center Stage

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

As HD voice continues to pick up steam in the mobile arena with broadband likely to follow, advanced voice processing is taking center stage. Audience (News - Alert) and Conexant both have announcements underlining their respective audio on-chip technologies.

The new Motorola RAZR i smartphone includes the Audience earSmart e5305 Advanced Voice processor. It's Audience's first design win with Motorola (News - Alert) Mobility, with the e5305 rolled into the Intel Medfield-powered smartphone.   The RAZR i was introduced last week and includes a Super AMOLED 4.3 inch display, a 2.0 GHz Intel Atom Processor, an "instant launch" eight megapixel camera, NFC (Near Field Communications) support and Android (News - Alert) 4.0.

Audience's earSmart family of processes incorporates a model of the human auditory system --- basically, like the way the human ear interpret sounds -- to enhance near-field (close to) audio, such as someone talking into a smartphone, and suppress far-field sounds like echoes and background noises. More intelligent filtering is key in supporting better quality voice, especially with HD voice where there's a wider audio range being captured and delivered.

One of the features highlighted in the Motorola RAZR i release is parent Google's (News - Alert) Voice Actions for Android, enabling the user to speak to the phone to conduct some actions. You can do such things as send a text, call, write a note and get directions with Voice Actions. Higher quality voice process at the handset translates to better success and user satisfaction using Voice Actions.

The Motorola win comes at a good time for Audience, since earlier this month it said Apple likely would not be using its technology in the iPhone 5. Audience supplied an earSmart processor for incorporation into the iPhone 4 and the licensed its audio processing algorithms to Apple for inclusion into the iPhone 4 S processor.

Conexant is making improvements into its audio processor. It has entered into an agreement with DIOTEK to integrate speech recognition into the CX20805. Conexant will use its pre-processing algorithms for ambient noise reduction and far-field voice recognition, then apply DIOEK's speech recognition speech recognition engine to provide reliable voice control.

The joint Conexant/DIOTEK solution is targeted to smart home appliances, consumer electronics and educational toys, so the voice linkage rolls into SmartTVs and potentially even handsets. Being able to pick up a cordless phone and say "Call Mom" or "Order Pizza" without having to scroll through a phone book would be a nice feature, as would a business handset that could do some basic voice processing rather than be loaded down with a huge ugly add-on sidecar of buttons.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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