LAS VEGAS – The International Consumer Electronics Show last week established three unmistakable trends beyond the emergence of Ultra HDTV: the rise of better audio to keep up with ultra HD images; advances in voice and vision technology to improve navigation on smart TVs; and the emerging 802.11ac, which will set the stage for gigabit data communication in the home.
“Now that they’ve seen images jumping out of UHDTV, people are more interested in better audio experience,” said CSR CEO Joep Van Beurden. (right). Cinema-like, surround-sound audio will become much more important to consumers, Van Beurden predicted. “Audio must keep up with UHDTV.” Most likely, sound systems will be implemented not by forcing consumers to wire up a complex 5.1 channel setting but by simply adding a sound bar or a few wireless speakers running high-quality audio.
CSR, for example, is adopting apt-X Lossless HD audio coding technology, capable of up to 96 KHz sampling rates and sample resolutions up to 24 bits. Expect more audio solutions to spring up on the market, all aimed at HD audio.
Natural User Interface
The industry is also scrambling to find a better user interface beyond hard-to-use and easy-to-misplace remote controls. “People want to interact with smart TVs with voice, vision and gesture,” said Eran Briman, vice president of marketing at CEVA. CEVA is rolling out a fully programmable platform dubbed MM3101 specifically designed to perform complex, real-time signal processing tasks related to imaging and vision. “This allows system companies to build a user interface that’s always ‘listening’ to you, or ‘watching’ you,” said Briman, instead of prompting you to push a button.
A tiny camera integrated into Panasonic’s new smart TV, for example, recognizes the face of a user sitting in front of the TV and changes the user interface to one pre-defined for that face.
Conexant, meanwhile, is touting its far-field voice input processor SoC. The chip, when designed into a set-top box or TV, allows consumers to speak a pre-defined command (in its demo, the company used, “Hey, Conexant!”) to turn a TV on or off.
Sailesh Chittipeddi, president and CEO at Conexant Systems Inc. (left), said it is leveraging a suite of algorithms, including acoustic echo cancellation, noise reduction, beam forming as well as pre- and post-processing.
The idea of talking to TV is no longer foreign to users. More are accustomed to voice recognition-based services like Apple’s Siri. “The technology has almost gotten to the point with which people are feeling comfortable,” said Henry Samueli, CTO of Broadcom.
Integration of voice-control functions is feasible either inside a remote unit or in a TV or set-top. LG CTO Scott Ahn said voice control will reside in LG’s new "magic remote," so “there will be no confusion as to whose commands the TV must listen.” Others advocate voice control inside the TV because remotes often get lost between the couch cushions. “Far-field voice input technology – that works on a voice trigger even in a large, noisy room – will be perfect for that,” claimed Conexant's Chittipeddi.