LONDON – Chip company STMicroelectronics NV has announced that it is working with startup Soundchip SA on an in-ear audio accessory that allows the wearer to switch between multiple audio sources – such as music, phone calls and real-world ambient sound or conversation – using voice commands or gesture recognition.
ST has been working with Soundchip (Lausanne, Switzerland) for about one year. Soundchip has particular expertise in audio algorithms and is the originator of the High Definition Personal Audio (HDPA) reference.
The Soundchip smart audio accessory is worn like a pair of in-ear monitors but they are designed to be worn at all times with modes that support music, telephony and direct conversation without requiring any adjustment to the in-ear apparatus. This has the benefit of protecting the wearer against unwanted background noise which the system can filter out. Effectively it is a hearing aid for people who are not yet hearing impaired.
Soundchip give the example of being able to initiate a phone call in a rock concert and allowing the wearer to converse naturally with the earphones in place.
The accessory is intended to physically seal the ear and to switch between voice, music or ambient sounds, by pressing a button, by making a pre-defined gesture or by speaking a voice command. The equipment will use ST MEMS sensors, including silicon membrane microphones, for a variety of tasks ST said.
The ability to link the hearing aid to a smartphone or tablet computer, means that apps can be used to process and mix sound sources to deliver additional features such as augmented reality.
"We believe that the smart audio accessory represents a game changing solution that offers the users of smartphones, tablet computers and gaming devices a level of sound experience only dreamed of until now," said Mark Donaldson, Soundchip CEO, in a statement issued by ST.
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