PARIS – Three months after filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11, where does Conexant Systems Inc. (Irvine, Calif.) stand today?
The Calif.-based company, which last week obtained court approval of its Chapter 11 reorganization plan, will “exit the current fiscal year (ending Sept.) by generating money,” said Sailesh Chittipeddi (right), Conexant president and CEO, in an interview with EE Times Monday (June 10).
Court approval essentially allows Conexant to swap debt held by its secured lender, an affiliate of funds managed by billionaire investor George Soros, for all of the equity in the reorganized company. Under the new ownership, Conexant “will emerge debt-free, with our obligations for leases and interest payment going away,” explained Chittipeddi.
After the company’s bankruptcy — caused by a combination of declining revenue, increasing costs and significant debt obligations, Conexant has already gone through a substantial operational restructuring.
Moving its headquarters from Newport Beach to Irvine was one of the first actions the company took. The biggest millstone around Conexant’s neck, however, was “dead leases for a lot of sites” — facilities the company no longer uses and was unable to rent, the CEO explained. Shedding responsibility for those dead leases and interest payments is a huge relief for the company as it emerges from bankruptcy.
But of course, what matters most to the future is whether Conexant has a product portfolio compelling enough to its potential customers.
Chittipeddi listed three product categories on which his company is betting its future. All are either already designed into its customers’ new products or whose new- generation chips are scheduled to roll out in the next few months. They include: Conexant’s far-field voice input processing-based devices, video surveillance solutions and printer SoCs.
In particular, Conexant is expanding its voice input/control technology not just for smart TVs but also for automotive, PCs and a number of home appliances.
Having already signed up a leading Korean TV manufacturer to its far-field voice input processing in smart TVs, Chiddippedi said Conexant is currently working with both Samsung and LG on implementing similar voice input processing technology in home appliances such as air conditioners, vacuum cleaner robots and refrigerators.
Conexant’s claim to fame is its selective source pickup technology, which uses multi-source separation to distinguish a targeted speaker from random speech/noise interference.
During a demonstration at the International Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, Conexant showed off a new chip -- designed for a set-top or a TV -- that lets consumers speak a pre-defined command to turn a TV on or off, even in a noisy room. Included in Conexant voice input/control technology are a suite of algorithms, including acoustic echo cancellation, noise reduction, beam forming as well as pre- and post-processing.
Voice control on vehicle make sense to me, since our hands and eyes are constantly occupied for driving. However I'm doubtful about gesture / voice control for so-called "smart TV". Are there so many people having trouble with old-fashioned IR remote control? Not for me, at least...
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