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WiSA Group Forms To Promote Wireless Audio Standard

12/14/2011 08:00:00 AM Eastern

Sunnyvale, Calif. - Key audio suppliers have signed on as advisory board members of an association that will promote a wireless audio technology for home theater systems and oversee certification testing to ensure products using the technology interoperate with one another.

The association, called the Wireless Speaker and Audio (WiSA)
Association
, champions the Summit Wireless technology, which was first
demonstrated at the 2009 CES and is incorporated in an active 7.1 speaker
system marketed by direct-to-consumer supplier Aperion Audio. The association
will host a suite during International CES at the Venetian, where Aperion's
product and prototypes from other brands will be demonstrated, said association
president Jim Venable.

In 2012, Venable said he expects
other companies will join Aperion in marketing products incorporating the
wireless technology. Klipsch Group, one of the advisory board members, has
already demonstrated a system using the technology.

Other advisory board members are
Pioneer, Aperion, Sharp, and DEI Holdings, which owns the Polk and Definitive
Technology brands. The remaining advisory board members are Hansong
Electronics, Meiloon Industrial, chip maker Silicon Image, and Hillsboro,
Ore.-based Summit Semiconductor.

Summit is the fabless
wireless-chip maker that developed the technologywhen it was part of Fabless
semiconductor developer Focus Enhancements.

The advisory board members are
full association members, and beginning today, other companies that want to
sign up as members will be able to do so through WiSA's web site. Retailers will also be
able to sign up so they can use the WiSA logo in ads and in-store materials.

The logo would also appear on
WiSA-certified products and product packaging to give consumers the confidence
that WiSA products from multiple manufacturers would work together, Venable
said. The organization has contracted with Simplay Labs, which certifies HDMI
products, to get a test center up and running in Sunnyvale, Calif., in March.

The technology is promoted as
delivering easy setup and surround sound quality that's "virtually
indistinguishable" from wired quality. The technology could be embedded in
TVs, Blu-ray players, A/V receivers, and hubs that connect to other audio and
video components to send audio to wireless-enabled active speakers. The
technology could also be incorporated in USB dongles that connect to TVs,
Venable said.

WiSA promotes the technology as
overcoming the sound quality, interference, latency and cost challenges
associated with other wireless technologies designed for multichannel home
theaters. It simplifies setup by enabling automatic speaker-level,
speaker-delay and phase adjustments that focus the audio sweet spot on any
seating location chosen by a consumer within a 30-foot- by 30-foot room.

Summit achieves its sound-quality
goals by, among other things, transmitting uncompressed 96kHz/24-bit PCM over
the air, using forward error correction to overcome latency problems, and using
the congestion-free 5.1Gz to 5.8GHz U-NII band. That spectrum has been approved
by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for worldwide unlicensed
use near the IEEE 802.11a/n wireless-network band.

Other WiSA technologies that
avoid interference include spread-spectrum OFDM (orthogonol frequency-division
multiplexing) modulation, four-antenna diversity tuning in speakers, dynamic
frequency selection to hop to a channel without interference, and up to 10ms of
audio interpolation to fill in lost packets.

The technology's SpeakerFinder
technology automatically discovers speakers in the room and assigns channels to
them, including front-height speakers in a 7.1-channel system. MyZone
sweet-spot calibration takes seconds to produce a time-aligned sound field for
the listener by automatically adjusting delay and volume to a selected
listening position.

The WiSA Association's managing
agent, WiSA LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Silicon Image. The agent will
oversee the interoperability testing and administration of logo usage.

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