Manufacturers Can Make Their Own Google Home or Amazon Echo With Qualcomm’s Smart Audio Platform


Qualcomm has unveiled a Smart Audio Platform that could create a wider path for new smart speakers. The chip maker has come up with a “smart audio” design that is a combination of voice-recognition sensor, microphone, and speaker that could help third-party manufacturers to come up with their version of smart speakers.

The Smart Audio Platform by Qualcomm runs on the open source Linux and Google’s Android Things IoT (Internet of Things) platform, which contains far-field microphone technology to detect “wake” phrases like, “OK Google,” from a distance. That's just how Google Home works, right? You say the wake phrase "OK Google" and it is ready to answer your commands. Qualcomm is also working on bringing Beamforming technology that utilizes multiple microphones to detect user’s voice along with other features like echo cancellation, Bluetooth aptX HD audio, and Wi-Fi.

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Not only smart features, but the Smart Audio Platform also carries support for high-end audio codecs such as MP3, OggVorbis (Hi-Res 32-bit/192KHz), lossless FLAC/ALAC, and the Qualcomm’s own multi-room AllPlay audio system. The AllPlay audio system allows users to control various wireless speakers on the single network. It also supports voice-activated AI assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa.

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To it core, Qualcomm’s Smart Audio platform focuses on giving a much-needed push to small manufacturers for making smart speakers with voice control. There is always a catch in everything this good, and so is with Smart Audio. It has a limited platform support. So far, only a few speakers from Hitachi, Panasonic, and Monster support the AllPlay standard, which is way smaller than the support for Google’s Cast Audio and Apple's AirPlay.

In a statement, the company's senior vice president and general manager of voice and music, Anthony Murray says:

The Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform combines high-performance processing power, world-class Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, advanced far-field voice capture and wake-word detection, AllPlay multi-room audio-streaming technology, and support for major voice ecosystems in a single solution.

This platform is ideal for traditional speaker manufacturers wanting to make the move to a connected platform as it is designed to bring together all the necessary hardware, software, and tools needed to reduce development time. It also offers a great degree of flexibility for those manufacturers who want to push the boundaries when it comes to possible future applications for smart speakers.

The new chips that power the Smart Audio Platform are APQ8009 and APQ8017. The company will begin to ship them in the third quarter of this year.