By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Onkyo of Japan has invested in wireless-audio technology developer Avnera, which said Onkyo will launch products equipped with its technology in the second half of the year.
Avnera's technology can be used to create wireless multisource, multizone-audio systems with what Avnera called “wired-quality” sound. It also delivers sound wirelessly to surround speakers in a home theater system.
From existing investors and from first-time investor Onkyo, Avnera raised a total of $10 million in its latest round of financing. The size of Onkyo's investment wasn't disclosed, nor were the types of products planned. Avnera also declined to comment on whether the Onkyo products would be available in the U.S.
In Onkyo's planned products, it also wasn't clear if the audio supplier would apply Best Buy's Rocketboost brand to the Avnera technology. Best Buy, which is also an Avnera investor, applied the Rocketboost name to the technology in products launched last October in the chain's Rocketfish line of private-label accessories. The chain has also been recruiting major CE suppliers to embed Avnera technology in their branded products and market the technology under the Rocketboost name. A Rocketboost logo appearing on products from multiple brands would signify the ability of the products to interoperate.
Best Buy wants to offer products from major CE suppliers with the Rocketboost logo, but it also has said nothing would prohibit suppliers from selling their Rocketboost-equipped products through other retailers as well.
Rocketboost-equipped accessories in Best Buy's Rocketfish line connect to existing music sources, sound systems and active or passive speakers to deliver wireless multizone audio. The products can also be used to deliver audio wirelessly to up to four surround speakers at a time.
Onkyo-brand products are available in Best Buy's Magnolia Home Theater outlets within full-line Best Buy stores.
Onkyo didn't respond to a request for comment.
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