Mic Hears All, All The Time

As we move closer to pretty much automating and monitoring every aspect of our lives, the need for an intuitive, accurate, and always-on interface to devices we use escalates. Addressing that need, Knowles Corp. offers the VoiceIQ, which it describes as the world’s first “always listening” smart microphone (mic).

Devices such as microphones that are always on require power always. According to VoiceIQ’s maker, the tiny mic is capable of automatically adapting its performance to surrounding acoustics and enabling voice interfaces on a mobile handset with significant power savings.

To achieve power savings, Knowles developed a new audio system architecture that integrates an audio processing algorithm with acoustic activity detection directly into a multi-mode digital microphone. The algorithm, embedded directly into the microphone, recognizes when to wake up the audio chain and when leave it in sleep mode, thereby lessening demands on the battery.

Users will be able to wake-up a portable device and launch specific commands from across a room with a single phrase, rather than touching a button or the screen to activate their devices. VoiceIQ also adapts to environmental noise, predicts the surroundings, such as a crowded restaurant versus a library, and dynamically adjusts its thresholds to detect the user’s voice.

Knowles also worked with Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. to pair VoiceIQ with Qualcomm’s CSR8670 and CSR8675 Bluetooth audio system-on-chip (SoCs). The CSR8670 and CSR8675 employ an audio DSP, application processor with embedded flash memory, a stereo codec, power-management subsystem, and up to six digital microphone inputs.

VoiceIQ measures 3.5 mm x 2.65 mm x 0.98 mm and features a multi-mode architecture, a power consumption in “always listening” mode of 0.4 mW at 1.8V, an integrated acoustic-activity-detect engine, and interrupt management to wake up downstream audio system pathways. For more information, visit http://www.knowles.com

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