CSR at Bluetooth World 2015: Unlocking the Internet of Things through CSRmesh™

Last year Bluetooth World brought together some of the industry’s most talented professionals for two days to share their insights on Bluetooth® technology. At Bluetooth World 2015, CSR will be back to demonstrate how CSRmesh™ allows an almost unlimited number of Bluetooth devices to be networked together and directly controlled from a single smartphone.

As the inventor of CSRmesh and Chair of the Bluetooth Smart Mesh Working Group, I will be giving my perspective on the Bluetooth Smart-enabled home and office in my keynote presentation: ‘The High Rise of Smart Buildings.’ The talk will discuss what exactly we mean by ‘smart buildings’, when we will begin to see them, and why there is a need for interoperability.

At the show the CSR team will be demonstrating a range of home automation applications including CSRmesh HVAC control, our CSRmesh Development Kit and our Bluetooth Low Energy Starter Development Kit which can help developers speed time to market.

Bluetooth World will take place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California on 14-15 April 2015. If you’re interested in a demo or would like to book a meeting, drop us an email at bluetoothsmart@csr.com.

 

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CSR helps Sound World Solutions to bring affordable Bluetooth® hearing aids to the masses

Sound World Solutions is a company with a noble aim – to bring affordable and high-performance hearing aids to everyone, no matter what their location or economic background. CSR recently donated 2,000 units of its CSR8670™ to Sound World Solutions as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility program and in recognition of their inspiring social mission for the hearing impaired. We caught up with Shawn Stahmer, VP Business Development at Sound World Solutions to find out more about the company’s mission and how Bluetooth® Smart is shaping the future of hearing aid technology.

  • Tell us a little bit about Sound World Solutions and the history of the company. What is your mission and vision?

Our mission is easy to describe – to create and deliver high quality, affordable hearing devices that allow people to rediscover the power of connection, no matter what their geographic location or economic circumstance happens to be. To succeed in that mission, we have had to start from the ground up in every component of the system; from how the product is designed and produced, to how the individual has their hearing screened and gets fitted, to the types of organizations that we work with to deliver our solutions to those in need.

The scale of the need worldwide is immense. According to numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 600 million people with severe hearing loss. Add in those with more moderate forms of loss and you near the 1 billion mark. Against that backdrop of need, the traditional hearing aid industry is selling about 10 million products per year. Of those, fewer than 1 million devices make their way out of the US or Western Europe.

So our mission is simple – to change this equation, with a particular focus on the parts of the world not currently being served.

CompanionAid

“The Companion Hearing Aid is a slim fit solution that can be worn on one or both ears and offers an incredibly low profile from most angles.”

  • Can you please give a brief overview of your Companion Hearing Aid product?

The Companion Hearing Aid is a slim fit solution that can be worn on one or both ears and offers an incredibly low profile from most angles. Matching the features and benefits of devices costing 10 times as much, the Companion delivers the perfect combination of Bluetooth® technology and ground-breaking affordability.

Like the other hearable products that we offer, the Companion offers completely customizable amplification to help you hear everything with crystal clarity. The Companion is incredibly easy to use, and comes with controls that allow you to use it right out of the box. You can also pair it via a Bluetooth connection to your iPhone (4s, 5, or 6), Android, or computer and use it to take and make phone calls, stream music or audio, and to completely personalize your device via our free Customizer App. Using the Customizer App, you can do your own hearing screening, then have the Companion automatically programmed with the results so that your amplification profile is exactly what you need it to be.

CS Customizer screenshot EQ

“Using the Customizer App, you can do your own hearing screening.”

The Companion uses a rechargeable battery, and provides 18 hours of life per charge, so you no longer need to fumble with those impossibly small button cell batteries.  It is also multi-lingual – for all of the common settings on the device, the Companion provides voice prompts in your choice of 4 languages. So instead of simply hearing beeps, you will hear a voice confirming such changes as “Volume Up”, “Volume Down”, “Connected”, or “Battery Low”.

Perhaps the best news is that the Companion does all of this at an incredibly affordable price – just $299 for a single unit, and $479 for a pair.

  • Can you give a bit of background on how CSR has helped contribute towards your mission?

In addition to the benefits I’ve already outlined, CSR as a company has been very supportive of our work, especially in the emerging markets. While the technology that CSR brings to our product is a fundamental enabler of our overall approach, CSR has also provided material support for us in the work we do to bring hearing care to those not currently served by the traditional hearing aid industry. We appreciate that support and are looking forward to a very collaborative relationship as we progress.

  • What benefit does having the CSR8670 in your products bring to the end user?

The CSR8670 along with the CSR development tools includes a lot of standard Bluetooth functionality and profiles “built-in.”  That gave us the ability to piggyback on all that functionality and focus on the development of our amplification system.  Without those profiles already implemented by CSR, we would not have been able to provide our users with the full headset functionality that they get today.  In addition, the CSR8670 has a powerful DSP on the same chip as the rest of the Bluetooth hardware and audio input and output. The CSR DSP is more powerful than the DSPs used by hearing aid manufacturers on their custom chips.  So, we are able to provide the end user with very great hearing aid quality algorithms without having to spin our own chips.

  • What makes your products different from others in the market?

While there are a number of areas we could highlight, the short answer is that our products were the first in the market to provide direct interaction with smartphones and the use of an app to control and customize the device. In the past few months we have seen several new entrants that provide reasonably similar functionality, but do so at 10x the price. There is no other product that provides similar performance at anything close to our price.

  • How do you see the medical technology market developing in the next five years? Wireless hearing aids have traditionally been enabled by electromagnetic fields and frequency modulation (FM) – why do you think Bluetooth has become more popular as a viable alternative?

There is no doubt that the Internet of Things will have a profound impact on medical technology in the next five years.  There is so much that can be gained by using inexpensive devices to monitor a patient’s health even when they are away from the hospital.  There will be some competition among the various wireless protocols as to which will become the dominant player in this arena. Bluetooth Smart stands a great chance of emerging as a winner. The main reason for this is because most other wireless protocols open a data “pipe” to allow communication between devices.  In order to communicate between 2 devices, both devices need to agree on the data format of the exchange.  It is not defined by the wireless pipe.  Bluetooth, as well as Bluetooth Smart, goes a step further and defines the actual data format, called profiles, that are communicated through the pipe. That means that anyone can develop a device on one end that communicates with someone else’s device on the other end as long as they use the same profile.  With respect to hearing aids, the Bluetooth SIG is working together with hearing aid manufacturers to create a profile for hearing aids.  This interoperability will boost the acceptance of Bluetooth Smart in the industry.  Due to the low power requirements of Bluetooth Smart, the protocols can be implemented on the very low power chips used in hearing aids.  Having a widely accepted communication standard like Bluetooth Smart on hearing aids will allow compatibility with a host of existing devices, like cell phones and systems.

"The CSR8670 has a powerful DSP on the same chip as the rest of the Bluetooth hardware and audio input and output.  The CSR DSP is more powerful than the DSPs used by hearing aid manufacturers on their custom chips."

“The CSR8670 has a powerful DSP on the same chip as the rest of the Bluetooth hardware and audio input and output. The CSR DSP is more powerful than the DSPs used by hearing aid manufacturers on their custom chips.”

  • In what ways will your partnership with CSR help you achieve your own long-term objectives?

Our goal since the beginning has been to bring complete hearing solutions to all of those who need help, regardless of their geographic location or economic circumstance. The technology we gain by use of the CSR chip and the program support we receive from the company are a potent combination in helping us to continue to pursue that goal, and we look forward to further development on both fronts.

Find out more about CSR’s wireless audio solutions here: http://www.csr.com/products/markets/audio 

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Taking the quality of TV audio to a whole new level with CSR’s MAPX™ and ZIRENE® SOUND by AM3D

AM3D, a Danish provider of audio enhancement software, is our first partner to offer audio enhancement solutions on MAPX™, CSR’s high quality audio system-on-chip (SoC) for soundbars, docking speakers, AV-receivers, home theatre systems, and integrated audio systems. 

This is great news for developers of TVs and soundbars as the combination of the MAPX processing power and the audio expertise of AM3D’s ZIRENE® SOUND solution will bring the sound quality of soundbars to an all new level. We spoke to Jacob N. Andersen, Senior Vice President at AM3D, to find out more about ZIRENE® SOUND, what the partnership means for the business and his outlook on audio industry trends.   

CSR: Can you please give a brief description of ZIRENE® SOUND?

AM3D: ZIRENE® SOUND is a HD quality audio enhancement solution. It significantly improves the output sound quality of audio playback devices such as smartphones, tablets, TVs, soundbars, Head Mounted Displays, headphones and other kinds of devices in which audio is an essential part of the user experience. The solution is purely software-based and easily integrated into a device.

CSR: How does it help manufacturers improve the audio quality on their products?

AM3D: The demand for small, slim and portable audio devices means that audio playback capabilities often differ significantly from those intended by the creators of the original media content. For example, stereo music and multi-channel audio are produced with specific loudspeaker arrangements in mind. These are not directly achievable with small devices or headphones. Other limitations may be caused by low acoustic output power or reduced bandwidth capability. To overcome the inherent performance limitations of audio devices, ZIRENE® SOUND offers state-of-the-art audio enhancement technologies to optimise the audio playback capabilities. ZIRENE® SOUND significantly increases the sound quality by post-processing the audio signal in the device. ZIRENE® SOUND includes high-quality features to:

  • Create surround sound virtually for headphones and stereo loudspeakers playback
  • Enhance audio content to boost voice dialog and equalise loudness differences
  • Enhance playback capabilities by equalising and boosting bass, treble and level

In addition to the ZIRENE® SOUND software solution, AM3D offers tuning tools for quick and easy adaption to each device model.

_MG_5284-

CSR: In what ways is CSR MAPX helping to achieve this?

AM3D: CSR MAPX is a family of highly integrated SoC designed for audio applications. It offers such a large amount of processing power and professional audio interfaces that we were able to implement our algorithms on MAPX without compromising audio quality.

Furthermore, MAPX’s extensible architecture means our algorithms can run in conjunction with other standard audio decoders, allowing cost-effective but fully-featured solutions based around one single chip.

Finally, MAPX’s toolset allows us to tune our algorithms in real-time, thus considerably reducing the tuning effort required for each project.

CSR: How do you see the audio market developing in the next five years?

AM3D: After several years where audio has suffered with poor quality because of the demand for still smaller and slimmer devices, we see a market shift where audio once again will be used as an important competitive parameter when companies seek to differentiate their products. This shift is happening because thin high-resolution displays have become an everyday commodity. Manufacturers therefore need to come up with a new selling point as the wow-effect declines. Audio is the natural successor to fill up this wow-gap, as there is a demand for HQ audio and 3D audio from the manufacturers as well as the consumers. We believe that audio in the next five years will boom and take the market into a new dimension.

CSR: In what ways will your partnership with CSR help you achieve your own long-term objectives?

AM3D: Being part of CSR’s eXtension partner program helps our unique audio software to reach a much wider range of consumers; CSR has a large choice of platforms for Soundbars, Speakers, Headsets and Home Theatre Systems, and AM3D’s products are part of CSR’s offering.

Further product information about MAPX is available here.

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CSR and ARM® mbed™ webinar: how to get your IoT device to market fast


*UPDATE* – If you missed this webinar or would like to listen to it again, you can download a recording by following this link.


 

The ARM® mbed™ platform, established last year, is designed to build the technology and ecosystem that can enable connected device development at scale. It is helping speed the development of Internet-connected products and concepts based on ARM microcontrollers. CSR is excited to be part of the mbed community and is helping drive growth of the IoT by making our connectivity and location solutions, including our Bluetooth®, Bluetooth Smart, Wi-Fi® and GPS available to developers using this platform.

CSR GPS Shield

CSR GPS Shield based on SiRFStarV™

If you’re interested in finding out how the platform and our mbed solutions could help you get your Internet of Things device to market fast our upcoming webinar will tell you all you need to know.

Simon Finch, Head of Systems Integration at CSR will be joined by Rohit Grover, Staff Engineer, and Chris Styles, Application Engineering Manager, IoT at ARM to discuss the benefits mbed can offer and to show CSR’s mbed solutions in action.

The webinar will cover:

  • An introduction to mbed – what is the ecosystem, how it can help you and how you can join
  • An overview of CSR mbed shields with a video demonstration of:
  • The chance to get your questions answered live about the platform and CSR shields

 

Whether you’re a developer who wants to build a consumer wireless home security system or you require connection for sensors to an industrial control system, this webinar will help you discover how we can help ease your efforts in getting your connected products to market quickly, easily and cost-effectively.

The webinar will take place twice on Thursday 12th February to cover all time zones:

 

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CSR8670™ helps Edwin the Connected Duck float at CES

The invention house Pi Lab has been developing exciting products for over a decade and CSR is proud to have collaborated with them on its latest creation, Edwin the Connected Duck. Billed as the “world’s first interactive rubber ducky,” Edwin is an app-enhanced smart toy that engages children in learning. While at CES we caught up with the founders to talk about how CSR’s technology is giving wings to their project.

Don Inman, President and Co-Founder at Pi Lab describes Edwin as “no ordinary duck”. The smart toy links to a smart device and allows a parent and child to connect with content using the Edwin App. The impressive roster of features includes interactive read-along stories, Bluetooth® waterproof floating speaker, LED night light, temperature sensor and accelerometer.

Matt Macbeth, CEO and Co-Founder explained how the dual-mode CSR8670™ audio system-on-chip (SoC) solution with Bluetooth Smart support made app communication and audio streaming possible: “There’s been a great collaboration between CSR and Pi Lab. If there’s questions we need to ask, we can quickly get the answers we need. Using the CSR dual-radio module made speed to market so much faster.”

According to the founders, Edwin is not going to be the only smart toy they make. Eventually they plan to launch a whole family of characters that are part of Edwin the Duck’s world. Inman said: “When it’s launched in March 2015, users will be able to see the town that Edwin lives in and be introduced to the different characters. The idea is that these additional characters will be able to link to Edwin and offer some really cool interactive experiences. We have a lot of cool things coming.”

You can find out more about how CSR’s audio SoCs can help you get innovative products to market fast here.

 

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CSR GAIA integrated into LG’s newest premium Bluetooth stereo headset, the LG Tone Infinim™, allowing for seamless interaction with a select range of smartphone functions

For many, the terms ‘Bluetooth®’ and ‘audio’ are used in the same breath. Bluetooth is of course well known for being an excellent wireless audio transmission technology, but one of the added benefits of Bluetooth is that it is incredibly flexible – software can be built around it which can significantly enhance the end user experience when it comes to personal and home audio products.

A perfect example of such software is CSR’s generic application interface architecture (GAIA), which enables communication between apps running on a device such as a mobile phone or tablet and Bluetooth connected accessories such as headsets and speakers. Included with our CSR8645™ stereo ROM solution, GAIA delivers added value and user experience for consumers including:

  • Simplicity of pairing and connecting devices through an interactive app using our GAIA architecture
  • Using an app to personalise ring tone for individual callers
  • Personalising the accessory through the app

 

LG’s Tone InfinimTM is a stylish, convenient, behind-the-neck type premium Bluetooth headset which demonstrates how a headset can use CSR GAIA to interact with a smartphone. The Tone Infinim seamlessly integrates GAIA’s features to provide you with a simpler and more convenient way to use your smartphone.

Features include:

  • Current time alert control
  • SMS/SNS replay control
  • When there is an incoming text message, the headset will vibrate
  • Direct Dial lets users easily call their designated contacts

 

Combined with our Bluetooth stereo platforms, we are enabling manufacturers like LG to develop  fully featured audio accessories that not only deliver outstanding wireless audio capability (thanks in large part to the aptX® codec and our cVc® voice enhancement technologies) but also seamless interaction with their tablet or smartphone via the GAIA software. To get a clearer picture of how Tone Infinim works in tandem with GAIA, see the below video:

GAIA is made free of charge for all our customers. If you are looking for an easy to use interface that manages information flow between your host device apps and their Bluetooth connected accessories, GAIA is perfect for enabling the features mentioned above, as well as advanced features such as Device Firmware Updates, True Wireless Stereo audio routing and live EQ updates.

Further information is available on CSR Support for those that have a valid CSR Support account:

  • For the GAIA API and relevant documentation please visit:

https://www.csrsupport.com/AudioSolutions/AudioDevelopmentKit-ADK/ADK251

  • For the GAIA V2 Android App and source code (Java) please visit:

https://www.csrsupport.com/CSRGAIA/GAIAAppResources

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CSR Lights Up Las Vegas Nightlife with 1,000 CSRmesh™ Connected Glow Sticks

Although the conversations about Bluetooth® Smart at CES 2015 earlier this month centered around the connected home, the possibilities it provides go far beyond it. CSRmesh™ enables a single mobile device to control a nearly unlimited number of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices that are networked together.

At our Connected World exhibit at CES 2015, we demonstrated the role that CSRmesh™ will play in the Internet of Things experience of the future. But we wanted to go outside the home to ambitiously illustrate its potential, so CSR collaborated with our partner Incipio to create a truly unique and memorable experience for its CES party at Life nightclub in Las Vegas.

We created 1,000 CSRmesh™ connected glow sticks to hand out to the event’s attendees. Inside of each glow stick was a simple LED light connected to a CSR1012™ chip.

With a custom app, the DJ was given the power to control every attendee’s glow stick to, for example, change the colors on-the-fly or display patterns in rhythm to the music. Because CSRmesh™ enables any device to relay a message to any other, the DJ’s messages were instantly spread across the entire colossal venue without worrying about range restrictions. As long as one glow stick was in range of another, the information was communicated.

In the Internet of Things, lighting, music and mobile devices can now interact in new and innovative ways to enhance the entertainment experience. CSRmesh™ makes it all possible.

Watch the video below to see CSRmesh™ light up the party.

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CSRmesh™ combines with Android Wear to allow whole home voice control

Among the exciting demonstrations currently running at CES in Las Vegas is CSR’s Connected World, a glimpse at the future of the Internet of Everything.

Here, we’ve created a totally connected CSRmesh™ enabled home – including home automation, audio, a connected car and location and asset tracking. In fact, even the giant illuminated ‘CSR’ sign behind the reception desk is CSRmesh-enabled.

Throughout the home we are showcasing our one-stop chip-to-cloud solutions for audio and home entertainment, the connected car, connected wearables, and health & fitness. As technologies converge, no other company is as well placed as CSR to help consumers manage the emerging challenges – including interoperability, low power, interference, latency and security.

In particular we’re happy to be showcasing a new addition to the protocol – the integration of Android Wear for whole home voice control. CSRmesh has proven to be popular for lighting applications via Bluetooth Smart, and with the increasing popularity of wearable technology, this new feature will allow consumers to control devices with voice commands.

To see CSRmesh and Android in action, a video demo can be viewed here.

If you’re in Las Vegas this week then please stop by the 8th Floor of the SpringHill Suites Las Vegas Convention Center. Here you can visit our Innovation Lab, a great place to get ‘hands on’ with fifteen technical demos and to meet some of the pioneers and innovators behind our products.

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State Of Play Report – The world of home audio through the eyes of the consumer

CSR commissioned a survey to understand the attitudes, habits and trends set to influence the design of home audio system in the coming years.

Audio buyers are becoming increasingly selective about what they want from their audio equipment but are manufacturers delivering on the needs of the market today and the wants of the future?Audio_4

The State Of Play Report reveals how people like to listen to music, how they would like their listening experiences to be improved, and the audio attributes they are willing to spend money on – both now and in the future.

Some key findings include:

– 77% of people yearn for better sound quality at home

– 59% want home audio technology to be interoperable with their favorite brands and devices

– 76% say ease of use is highly critical when choosing a new audio system

To find out more, please fill out the form below to download the report.

State Of Play Report

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Bluetooth 4.2 is here – but what does it mean?

Over the past year CSR has implemented all of the important enhancements introduced in the Bluetooth 4.1 specification in its connectivity platforms, from single mode low energy and wireless audio platforms through to discrete connectivity products. This has allowed developers to employ the latest Bluetooth capabilities in their devices and expand their offerings to new markets.

Today, CSR has qualified a product compliant to version 4.2, which was officially adopted by the Bluetooth SIG last week. The update adds some significant improvements that further secure Bluetooth Smart’s position as a key enabling technology for the Internet of Things. But what are these updates?

Screen-Shot-2014-12-03-at-10.21.43-AM

Version 4.2 introduces three major updates to the specification: Low Energy data packet length extensions, Low Energy privacy upgrades and Low Energy secure connections. Let’s take a brief look at each one:

Low Energy data packet length extensions: The length of data packets transferred over Bluetooth Smart has been increased from 27 bytes to 251 bytes, which translates into maximum data rates of over 800kb/s. This allows for both the master and slave to negotiate the maximum length of packets to transmit and receive.

A larger data rate transfer means one thing – speedier downloads that are up to 2.6 times faster than previous Bluetooth versions. This is massively important for those developers looking to create devices that might require downloading large amounts of data – for example, regular firmware updates or downloading large data logs from sensors. Also, increased data transfer speeds and packet size reduce the opportunity for transmission errors to occur and lessen battery consumption, resulting in a much more efficient connection.

Low Energy privacy upgrades: For Bluetooth Smart settings to be truly private, address resolution of private devices had to be done in the host CPU. Now, address resolution is moved from the host CPU to the controller, which reduces power consumption on private devices. Bluetooth Smart chips will now only ‘wake up’ when someone designated as trusted is within a user’s proximity, which has the added bonus of lowering power consumption on the host CPU. So, to take a retail store using beacons as a real life example, unless a consumer has enabled permission for the beacon to engage with their device, they can no longer be tracked.

Low Energy secure connections:  Last year’s 4.1 update introduced AES encryption to deliver more secure BR/EDR connections. The 4.2 update now completes the security upgrades by adding full public key cryptography for authentication in LE using FIPS compliant algorithms, essentially updating the authentication mechanisms to the same standard as Bluetooth Classic. With this feature, dual mode devices only need to pair once and have the same fully secure connection regardless of which mode was used to authenticate.

Today, the Bluetooth SIG will make its qualification site live – please refer to this to find out which CSR products are 4.2 qualified – but you can expect to see all CSR dual mode platforms make their way onto the list.

For any questions relating to CSR’s Bluetooth Smart products, please contact bluetoothsmart@csr.com or leave a comment below.

Posted in Applications and Markets, Bluetooth Smart, Connectivity, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments