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Tympany, Qualcomm Team To Develop Networked Audio

Sausalito, Calif. — Tympany, an original design manufacturer (ODM) for major audio brands, will team with Qualcomm Atheros to co-develop turnkey Wi-Fi-enabled speakers and other streaming-audio products.

The companies said suppliers could bring to market at price points from $200 on up to the high end with faster time to market.

Under the agreement, Tympany will work with Qualcomm Atheros to integrate Qualcomm’s Skifta wireless audio module into home audio devices.

The module integrates Wi-Fi, Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) network technology, and access from the audio device to such Cloud-based content providers as Soundcloud, Rdio, ShoutCast,, Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook Photos, Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, TED Talks and others.

A Skifra-equipped speaker will also stream music stored on iOS and Android devices equipped with a Skifta app. The mobile devices will also control the multi-room system.

On top of that, a networked speaker or other audio playback device incorporating Skifta will turn a networked DLNA-enabled network-attached storage (NAS) device or PC into a Cloud-based music server that streams to remote mobile devices and PCs, the companies said.

The audio module will be demonstrated at Qualcomm’s booth at International CES, and Tympany will demonstrate reference designs of three prototype active networked speakers at a Venetian suite.

Under the reference-design strategy, said Tympany business development director Todd Anderson, Tympany will develop a series of reference designs for active speakers, docking speakers and soundbars designed to be the best in class within their given segment. Products built from the reference designs will cost “substantially less” than other executions, including Apple AirPlay,” added said Tom Jacoby, Tympany’s chairman and corporate development officer.

The factory cost of adding Skifta networking will be one-half to one-third less than the cost of adding Apple AirPlay networking to a device, Anderson added.

Tympany is focusing its marketing efforts on traditional audio suppliers but also on nontraditional suppliers “who may not possess the internal structure to develop these types of products currently, [to] bring best-in-class wireless audio products to market in a timely, cost-effective manner,” Anderson noted.

Such players could include streaming-music service providers and cable- and satellite-TV providers, he said.

Qualcomm’s Skifta platform gives consumers the option of selecting media from their Android or iOS phone, from DLNA media servers, PCs or NAS drives, and from a variety of audio content channels that are integrated directly into the Skifta platform, said Gary Brotman, Qualcomm Atheros’s product marketing director.

The platform will enable consumers to stream a song from a PC or mobile device to around 32 Skifta-equipped speakers with no noticeable latency, said Anderson. That capability is called Party Mode. The platform will also enable the streaming of multiple songs from a PC or NAS drive to different speakers, and mobile devices equipped with the Skifta app would also be able to stream multiple songs at a time to different speakers.

Although the Skifta platform is open so that any DLNA controller app could interact with a Skifta-enabled audio device, “some features such as multi-source to multi-zone streaming and Partymode will only be possible with the Skifta app or APIs,” Brotman noted.

Client manufacturers will get the ability to leverage an API suite that lets them integrate control-app functionality directly into their own branded controller, and longer term, Internet music services will get the ability to integrate their native apps with the Skifta, Brotman said.

The module will be in full production in 2013, and the first products from the alliance will be available late in 2013 or early 2014.

Privately held Tympany, founded in 2002, is an ODM partner with consumer electronics, automotive and pro-audio brands.