Feature Article

March 01, 2012

U.S. Call Quality Expected to Improve with 4G, New Chip from Audience

There are new kinds of technology which will improve call quality in the United States.

As 4G LTE continues to expand, it is likely to offer HD voice calls in the United States by next year, according to news reports. In addition, a microchip from Audience has great potential, too. It can improve the sound of a human voice and reduce annoying background noise.

The chip from Audience – called “earSmart” – is already found in phones being used in nations which use HD Voice. MobilityTechzone’s Stefania Viscusi said HD Voice provides better sound quality over the more-traditional narrowband calls.

But the United States has yet to come on board. HD mobile audio will be offered soon in the United States, which would propel the chip into greater use, the company predicts. At that point, voice recognition will be applied to lots of devices such as televisions and cars.

Andy Keane, Audience's vice president of marketing, predicts users “should be able to just tell it what to do and it will do it."

It works kind of like a human ear. “Say someone makes a call from a bustling restaurant or airport,” speculates the San Jose Mercury News. “The Audience chip in the phone of the person receiving the call would analyze the pitch, harmonics and other acoustic properties of the incoming call and categorize the data into separate audio streams, the company explained in a recent regulatory filing. … Then the chip would isolate and highlight the stream associated with the caller's voice, while minimizing the rest.”

Since 2008, Audience sold over 135 million of the chips. Mobile-device manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Sharp and Sony – each use them.

Even if it is not using a HD network, the chip will improve call quality, Keane adds. In addition, with the chip both feature phones and lower-end smartphones can provide similar “voice quality” as when using higher-cost smartphones, according to a company press release.

"Although smartphones get most of the press, they still comprise less than a third of worldwide cell-phone shipments," Linley Gwennap of The Linley Group, was quoted by the Audience press statement. "The eS110 addresses the other two-thirds of the market, bringing an improved audio experience to phones even when manufacturing cost must be kept to a minimum."

In addition, Peter Santos, president and CEO of Audience, noted that the eS110 represents “a remarkable achievement … delivering the ability to have clear conversations, in almost every environment, on a wider range of mobile devices."

The earSmart eS110 provides a low-power Audio DSP core, the company adds. It improves a call made via handsets or speakerphones.

The chip will be offered to manufacturers during March. It may start showing up in mobile devices by December.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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