Focus Enhancements Debuts Hi-Res Wireless Surround-Sound ICDecember 10, 2008 By Nancy Klosek
Focus Enhancements conducted demonstrations this week of the Summit FS848 integrated circuit, four years in the development, which is designed to transmit multi-channel uncompressed 24-bit digital audio signals wirelessly in an interference-free manner.
The technology may be incorporated in source components and loudspeakers alike. Each speaker in a grouping that is outfitted with the Summit technology, upon the powering up of the audio system, detects its own location and its relation to the other speakers in the setup, via a SpeakerFinder feature using an ultrasonic transducer that permits two-dimensional mapping of speakers’ locations. Automatically optimizing speakers’ performance for the room they inhabit is the MyZone auto “sweet spot” calibration feature, initiated by a button press on a remote.
The technology makes use of the newly accessible 5GHz U-NII band spectrum, which gets around interference problems found in devices that share – and crowd – the 2.4GHz and 5.8 GHz spectra. In loudspeaker applications, each speaker in a system, while it need not be tethered to the others or to the source component, needs to be plugged into its own power source.
“We haven’t found a commercially available solution like Summit that outputs multi-channel uncompressed audio in a home theater environment,” said Tony Parker, vice president of product marketing, semiconductor division. He added that including Summit in home-theater-in-a-box or multiple-speaker systems would help the average person circumvent many classic system setup problems – problems that he said research data reveals causes 30 percent of frustrated owners who can’t resolve them in a half day to return their purchases for store refunds.
Michael Hudson, Focus Enhancements’ chief technology officer, semiconductor division, said that a major benefit of the Summit solution will be realized in the gaming market – which Parker stated is growing at a 50 percent compounded annual rate. “With only two milliseconds fixed latency, there is less latency than with a wired system,” Hudson explained. The benefit also extends to erasing lip-synching issues between on-screen video and sound, he added.
While the technology is being formally introduced at the 2009 CES, Parker said the company had been in talks with numerous loudspeaker, A/V receiver and Blu-ray suppliers whose future product releases would likely include some permutation of the technology by Q3 or Q4 of 2009. The only current partner name Parker was at liberty to reveal is loudspeaker company NHT, which is planning to run demos in Las Vegas’ Venetian Hotel at CES.