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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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