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Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Qualcomm at CES 2018

Qualcomm used CES to announce new Home Hub platforms supporting Google Assistant, a Smart Speaker platforms supporting Microsoft Cortana adn Google Assistant, Smart Speaker development kits and more.

New Home Hub Platforms Supporting Android

Qualcomm announced two Qualcomm Home Hub platforms supporting Google's Android Things. Based on the Qualcomm SDA624 and SDA212 system on chips (SoCs), these platforms are designed to help developers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to quickly develop home hubs featuring Google services such as the Google Assistant.

The platform also includes System-on-Modules (SoMs), development boards and reference designs. Harman and Lenovo are currently working with Qualcomm Technologies on home products including the new Lenovo Smart Display using the Qualcomm Home Hub platforms.

The first of the Qualcomm Home Hub platforms for Android Things, based on the Qualcomm SDA212 SoC, is designed to enable home devices and appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and washing machines with digital assistant and audio capability. It brings together a unique combination of processing capability, connectivity options, voice user interfaces and premium audio technologies all in one platform. The platform incorporates echo-cancellation, noise suppression and "barge-in" capability, supporting a voice user interface in loud or noisy environments even when users are far from the device.

The more feature-rich variant of the Qualcomm Home Hub platform for Android Things, based on the Qualcomm SDA624 SoC, adds edge computing capabilities while bringing multimedia, video camera, touch display and more to Android Things devices such as smart displays, home monitoring cameras, smart thermostats and security panels.

Both platforms support Wi-Fi 802.11ac 2x2 MU-MIMO and Bluetooth connectivity using Qualcomm Technologies' QCA9379 chip.

Qualcomm Technologies is working with distributors to design and make available certified SoMs, reference designs and development boards based on the Qualcomm Home Hub platform - for both variants based on SDA212 and SDA624.

The Qualcomm Home Hub platforms, SoMs, reference designs and development boards using Android Things are expected to be generally available in first quarter of 2018 through Intrinsyc Technologies Corporation. SoMs based on SDA624 will also be available through LITE-ON Technology Corporation.

First Smart Speaker Platform Supporting Microsoft Cortana

Qualcomm says that its Smart Audio Platform now supports Microsoft Cortana. The platform integrates the hardware and software required to develop smart speakers with support for the intelligent digital assistance provided by Microsoft Cortana.

The Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform with support for Cortana is expected to be generally available in the first half of 2018.
Smart Speaker Development Kit Based on the Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform

Qualcomm plans in the first half of 2018, to make a smart speaker development kit based on the Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform available through its authorized distribution channels. The development kit is engineered to help developers and audio manufacturers simplify the development of smart speaker products, at a range of price points.

The Smart Audio Platform is a flexible solution engineered to bring together a combination of processing power, connectivity options, voice user interfaces and audio technologies. The platform is designed to be an end-to-end single-vendor smart speaker solution integrating Qualcomm's processing, as well as proprietary audio technologies engineered for high resolution audio, networked audio, echo cancellation, beamforming, noise suppression and barge-in wake-word detection. With support for both Linux and Android Things operating systems, as well as voice services from major cloud providers, the Smart Audio Platform offers manufacturers a variety of choices to help them participate in the growing smart speaker opportunity.

The development kit features a Wi-Fi certified System-on-Module (SoM) that integrates the key system components. The kit also includes schematics and design files to support easier customization and differentiation in the manufacturers' products.

Additionally, the development kit offers a reference design for smart speaker devices. This reference design features a six-microphone array and speaker housing to support far-field voice interface and high-performance wake-word detection - including barge-in capabilities supported by echo cancellation technology, pre-tuned to the hardware.

RF Front-End Design Wins with Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile

Qualcomm announced radio frequency front-end (RFFE) design wins with a host of original equipment manufacturers (OEM), including Google, HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Mobile.

Qualcomm Technologies is the first technology provider to produce the hardware and software needed to deliver a modem-to-antenna system solution to OEMs, which includes new QPM26xx series gallium arsenide (GaAs)-based power amplifier modules including duplexers (PAMiDs), envelope tracker, antenna tuners, antenna switches and discrete and integrated filter modules.
The RF front-end portfolio delivers mobile solutions that support technologies such as Gigabit LTE, 4x4 MIMO and LTE Advanced, and is crucial to the evolution and commercialization of 5G technologies in 2019.

Mesh Networking Platform coming to Smart Home

Qualcomm is expanding the capabilities and product applications for its Qualcomm Mesh Networking Platform and Reference Design, further establishing mesh as the networking platform of choice for today's smart homes. The company is enabling, through the integration of Qualcomm Aqstic and Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana, voice recognition capabilities in the platform to create voice-driven experiences in the home.
Additionally, Qualcomm Technologies is expanding the range of products that support the Qualcomm Mesh Networking Platform, beyond networking infrastructure to include smart speakers, smoke detectors, security systems, and smart bulbs.

The company is currently working with a number of technology companies, including Cognitive Systems Corp., Origin Wireless and Lunera to expand the use of mesh networking into many smart devices in the home.

Low Power Bluetooth Audio SoC Series for Wireless Earbuds and Hearables

Qualcomm introduced the new Qualcomm Low Power Bluetooth SoC QCC5100 series that is designed to help manufacturers develop a new generation of wireless earbuds, hearables and headsets.
Qualcomm claims that the new SoC series is engineered to reduce power consumption by up to 65 percent for both voice calls and music streaming, compared to previous single-chip Bluetooth audio solutions.

The SoC architecture supports low power performance and includes a Bluetooth 5 dual-mode radio, low power audio and application subsystems. Designed to serve various "on-the-go" consumer use cases, the platform supports features including Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo, Qualcomm aptX HD audio, Integrated Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and third-party voice assistant services.

The QCC5100 series has a dedicated application processor sub-system, dual DSP architecture and ADK software with enhanced development tools. The device family is also designed to support multiple use cases with concurrent software operation, meaning users can transition smoothly between functions including; listening to music, making calls, running biometric sensors and using voice assistant services.

The platform features integrated hybrid ANC to help reduce the complexity and cost of adding ANC to earbuds, hearables and other portable audio devices by eliminating the need for a separate ANC chip. Support for aptX and aptX HD audio technologies also helps to bring consistent, high-quality audio streaming over Bluetooth.

The QCC5100 series can help reduce development time and cost of voice activated products by combining local voice recognition algorithms running on the Bluetooth audio SoC with leading cloud services running on mobile applications.

Qualcomm Low Power Bluetooth SoC QCC5100 Series Features

  • Low power design and ultra-small form factor
  • Dual-core 32-bit processor application subsystem
  • Dual-core Qualcomm Kalimba DSP Audio subsystem
  • Support for aptX and aptX HD, Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo, and Enhanced ANC (Feed-Forward, Feed-Backward, Hybrid)
  • Voice Assistant Services, low power wake word detection
  • Bluetooth 5.0 and 2 Mbps Bluetooth- Low Energy support
  • Embedded ROM + RAM and support for external Flash memory
  • 2-ch 98dBA headset class D (integrated amplifier)
  • 2-ch 99dBA line inputs (single ended)
  • 192kHz 24-bit I2S & SPDIF interfaces
  • Flexible software platform with powerful new IDE support

Integrated Far-Field Smart Audio Reference Platform for the Amazon Alexa Voice Service

The new Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform has been qualified by Amazon for the Alexa Voice Service (AVS). This reference platform incorporates the hardware and software building-blocks required to facilitate commercialization of smart speaker and networked audio solutions, and it is the first announced fully end-to-end audio processing and system reference design for AVS from a single vendor.

Key features of the Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform include:

  • Quad-Core ARM A53 processor
  • Integrated Qualcomm Hexagon Audio DSP
  • Dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi (1x1 and 2x2 options)
  • Bluetooth 4.2 + Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • Key profiles such as A2DP source/sink, AVRCP, SPP, HFP, PAN, NAP, AVCTP, AVDTP, PBAP, RSP / Wake on BLE
  • High-performance audio encode/decode with Qualcomm aptX and aptX HD
  • Embedded Linux for an open development ecosystem
  • Qualcomm Voice UI suite Far-Field Voice 6-microphone technology
  • beamforming, echo cancellation, and noise suppression
  • configurable voice activation engine tuned to recognize "Alexa"
  • barge-in support and voice capture in high-noise environments
  • Support for the Amazon Alexa Voice Service
  • AllPlay networked audio solution (multi-room, multi-channel)
  • Audio playback from a wide range of industry audio codecs including MP3, AAC, OggVorbis, FLAC, AIFF, WAV, PCM, ALAC
  • High-performance Bluetooth/Wi-Fi coexistence for optimal audio performance

The Qualcomm Smart Audio development kit with support for the Amazon Alexa Voice Service is in production now.

Smart Speakers with Support for Android Things and the Google Assistant

Last but not least, Qualcomm announced at CES 2018 support for Android Things, the Google Assistant, Google Cast for audio and other Google services on the Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform.

The solution is designed to allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to create smart speakers featuring support for the voice interaction of the Google Assistant across various product tiers and categories. The integrated platform is designed to bring together a unique combination of processing capability, connectivity options, voice user interfaces and premium audio technologies.

The Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform with support for Android Things is expected to be generally available in the first half of 2018.

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