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DTS Expands PlayFi To iOS, Adds Core Brands As Licensee

Calabasas, Calif. - DTS has licensed custom-install supplier Core Brands to offer products incorporating wireless Play-Fi multizone-audio technology, which has been upgraded to include iOS mobile devices as music sources and system controllers. 9/19/2013 12:25:00 PM Eastern

Calabasas, Calif. - DTS has licensed custom-install supplier Core Brands to offer products incorporating wireless Play-Fi multizone-audio technology, which has been upgraded to include iOS mobile devices as music sources and system controllers.

The technology, unveiled last year by DTS subsidiary Phorus, previously used only Android mobile devices as controllers and music sources.

A Play-Fi app for iOS devices is available through Apple’s online store and is compatible with existing Play-Fi streaming devices already on the market.

Play-Fi-enabled Core Brands’ products will be shown at the CEDIA Expo, Core Brands confirmed without releasing details.

Play-Fi distributes music to multiple Play-Fi-equipped sound systems at a time. The music can be stored on an Android or iOS device or streamed from the cloud from the devices through select music services. Using the mobile devices as controllers, Play-Fi-equipped sound systems also stream music stored on DLNA-enabled Windows PCs and NAS drives.

Compatible products currently consist of a tabletop speaker and a tabletop streamer, both from Phorus, and a tabletop speaker from licensee Wren Audio. DTS is also licensing the technology for use in AV receivers and other CE products.

With the addition of iOS compatibility, “DTS Play-Fi is now the first licensable whole-home audio technology capable of streaming lossless, high-quality audio from both iOS and Android devices, as well as Windows PCs, to multiple rooms, from multiple users, simultaneously using standard Wi-Fi,” the company said.

DTS’s goal is to license the technology broadly to CE makers to deliver a Sonos-like wireless multiroom-audio experience through multiple brands of interoperable products rather than through a single brand that uses proprietary technology, said DTS chairman/CEO Jon Kirchner.

At CES, an unspecified number of new products will appear in part because of a DTS initiative to enlist leading contract manufacturers to develop Play-Fi products as ODMs, Kirchner said. Also helping is a new Play-Fi module that is now in mass production with twice the processing power of its predecessor and with improved Wi-Fi, he said. “We’re working through ODM partners to get licensees to sign up quickly,” he noted.

Adding Play-Fi to a CE product adds as much to the product’s price as Apple’s AirPlay does but offers multiple advantages over AirPlay, said Dannie Lau, Play-Fi’s lead architect. Advantages include the ability to stream music from an iOS device to multiple sound systems at a time rather than to just one sound system at a time. In addition, audible notifications of email, social-media updates, and the like aren’t transmitted to Play-Fi-equipped sound systems even when they’re reproduced by the mobile device’s own speaker.

Although Play-Fi distributes music over a home’s existing Wi-Fi network, the technology overcomes Wi-Fi quality-of-service limitations by prioritizing Play-Fi traffic, compensating for the typical types of interferences suffered by Wi-Fi networks, and synchronizing audio throughout the house by reducing latency to less than 1ms, eliminating echoes that could otherwise be heard when multiple Play-Fi devices play back music simultaneously in nearby rooms, the company said.

With the technology, up to four speakers can be synced to play back the same source, but a mix of up to eight Play-Fi-enabled sound systems play simultaneously when up to four mobile devices are used as music sources. Although up to 16 playback devices can be connected to a Play-Fi network, only eight will play at once.

On Android devices, the Play-Fi apps supports streaming of music from Pandora, vTuner, and podcasts. From an Apple device, users can stream Pandora. Compatibility with additional streaming services will be available for both Android and iOS apps in the future, the company said.

When controlling the playback of music stored on a DLNA PC or NAS drive, the mobile devices receive the music from the PC or NAS drive, then redirect the music to Play-Fi sound systems. Play-Fi uses this method so it can “wrap” the music with Play-Fi’s synchronization and other audio-enhancing technologies, Lau said.

Play-Fi-equipped devices decode P3, FLAC, AAC, and WMA files.

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