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The Tenth Annual Interactive Music Conference
brainstorming graphic

Group Report: Using a Multiplicity of Audio Devices in the Home PC

Participants: A.K.A "The Devon's in the Details"

Noel Cross; Microsoft

Devon Worrell; Intel
David Roach; SigmaTel Whit Hutson; SigmaTel
  Facilitator: Van Webster; Webster Communications

Problem Statement

A PC w/ multiple connected devices has user-experience problems associating streams and devices and control data.

We need to make the PC as simple as consumer electronics devices without losing the flexibility inherent in the PC.


We created a list of target personas against which to evaluate various usage scenarios involving multiple connected devices.

Entry-level (or Mother-in-law)

  • Not comfortable with computers
  • Unfamiliar w/ terms and concepts
  • Needs Simplicity
  • Easily embarrassed


  • Tweaker
  • Not usually audio literate
  • Frame rate matters


  • Buys high-end equipment
  • Entrenched, not buying often
  • Skeptical
  • No compromises
  • Relatively simple systems

Business user

  • Voice mail
  • I/M VOIP
  • Mobility

Early adopter

  • Knows technology
  • Wiling to try unpolished products
  • Influencer

Mass Market

  • This is who we are trying to sell to
  • Highly critical, low tolerance
  • Responsive to marketing & influencers
  • Likely to call for support
  • Karaoke must be accommodated


  • Turn key systems are popular
  • No compromises
  • Extremely complex systems
  • Flexible system
  • Plug-ins
  • Obsolete quickly
  • May include professional DJs

Prosumer/Entry-level content creator

  • Solutions trickled-down from professional
  • Most DJs are in this category
  • Karaoke

New Metadata Needed (by priority)

We identified several new types of metadata needed to adequately describe the information needed to simplify usability.

Priority Metadata Association Who Provides?
1 Stream Class Stream App writers
2 Control Surface Stream Devices
3 Clock Domain Stream Devices
4 Device Location Dynamic Devices
5 Location Identification Dynamic Metadata provider

A Look Ahead

These are devices which will be attached to a PC.

2006 2008
MP3 Player
Headsets (wired & wireless)  
Line level input  
Microphone (3.5mm)  
Microphone (XLR)  
MIDI (both USB & awful DIN)  
Phono cartridge  
Control surfaces  
Mobile phone  
TV Tuner  

Integrated amplifiers

  Network Connected TV
  Network connected transducers
  RJ-11 Phone attach
  Wireless phone

How the PC Looks Today

How the PC Will Look Tomorrow


  • Audio streams need usage metadata.
  • Audio streams need clock domain metadata.
  • Backchannel control surface information
  • Wireless is coming. Many problems to solve specifically for wireless.
    • Dynamic attach
    • Dynamic location
  • Develop a Crossbar/Broadcaster Module.
    • This is a consumer of usage metadata.
    • This is a consumer of clock domain metadata.
    • One crossbar per connection nexus (i.e. PC)

  • Applications should provide device-independent native streams.
  • Devices should subscribe to stream class.
  • Metadata providers are introduced into the architecture.


Each named individual to deliver the attached recommendations back to their respective companies. Group to meet by phone within 4 weeks after getting internal feedback to assess the feasibility of building the system as described; if feasible, develop a strategy for implementation and outreach to affected technology provider communities as required.

section 4

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select a section:
1. Introduction  2. Speakers  3. Executive Summary  
4. Using a Multiplicity of Audio Devices in the Home PC
5. New Approaches for Developing Interactive Audio Production Systems
6. Design Features of a Mass Market Living Room PC
7. Ubiquitous Content Distribution to and within the Home
8. Improving Computer Audio and Music Production Systems User Interfaces
9. Disrupting the Current Paradigm of How Audio is Viewed and Used
10. Schedule & Sponsors