You may not have heard of Audience, but its sound processor may be powering your smartphone right now. With design-wins like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3, RAZRi and other high-profile smartphones, Audience makes your voice sound better for those who listen to you on the phone. The company builds Voice Processors that help filter out background noise, even in relatively noisy places like busy restaurants and bars.The Audience eS515 chip integrates completely in a smartphone and has access to all sound functionalities (input and output) of its host, and that allows the eS515 to be used in application like speech recognition or mobile audio zoom, which are way beyond simple phone conversations. Audio zoom is the idea that multiple voice signals (from many people) can be isolated from the background noise. Participants can each speak normally, and the eS515 should be able to “zoom in” on each of them when they speak.
Audience can also do things like de-reverb, which means removing the echo that can be heard if you are in a large empty room. This allows the call recipient to feel “closer” to you, which makes the voice easier to hear/understand.
The eS515 can also use data from up to three microphones to understand its environment and remove noise when possible. It will also sense which microphone is the best to pick up your voice from at any given time. As you move the phone around (while talking), the system will do its best to maintain a consistent sound quality.
Interestingly, removing background noise can have implications other than pure audio quality. For instance, during VOIP calls, having less noise also means transmitting less noise and therefore using less bandwidth and power. Finally, the eS515 can also be used to reduce the “hiss” when the smartphone is in camcorder mode – that’s something everyone uses at some point.
At the moment, Audience’s eS515 is sampling in small quantities to customers, so expect to see products using this new voice processor by the third and fourth quarter of 2013. Audio tends to be a feature that is invisible to most users, but just like everything else, when you get used to the “good stuff” it will be hard to come back.