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Focus Moves Forward With Wireless Multichannel Audio

Campbell, Calif. — Uncompressed multichannel wireless-audio technology developed by fabless semiconductor designer Focus Enhancements is a step closer to appearing in home-audio products.

The company signed an agreement with ODM supplier ANAM Electronics to include Focus’ Summit IC into A/V receivers (AVRs) that it designs and manufactures.

Focus’s technology, unveiled late last year, is promoted as overcoming the sound quality, interference, latency and cost challenges associated with other wireless technologies designed for multichannel home theaters. It’s designed for use in a variety of consumer electronics products, including TVs, DVD and Blu-ray players, home theater in a box (HTiB) systems, preamps and game consoles.

The technology promises 7.1-channel sound quality said to be virtually indistinguishable from wired quality, and it’s affordable enough for use in midprice HTiBs, the company said. Summit achieves its quality goals by, among other things, transmitting uncompressed 48kHz/24-bit PCM over the air, using forward error correction to overcome latency problems, and using the uncongested 5.1-5.8GHz U-NII band. That spectrum, which features 23 non-overlapping channels, was recently approved by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for worldwide unlicensed use near the IEEE 802.11a/n wireless-network band.

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

The Summit chip also offers additional performance advantages unavailable even in $2,000 A/V receivers, the company has said. Although AVRs and HTiBs offer speaker-level, speaker-delay and phase controls to maximize a sound system’s sweet spot, the sweet spot is limited to an area around the center of a room, the company said. But Summit’s implementation of these technologies is so flexible that the sweet spot can be focused into one corner of a room where a sectional couch might be placed, it contended.

To make it easy to set up a wireless system, Summit-equipped systems automatically discover speakers in the room and assign channels to them.

Focus’s semiconductor division develops and markets IC solutions and components for home-theater systems, portable media players, smartphones, portable navigation devices and other CE devices. The company’s system group develops video products for the broadcast, video production, digital signage and digital asset management markets.