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The Twenty-first Annual Interactive Audio Conference
BBQ Group Report: Audio Sensor Opportunities:
Market Requirements and Technology Challenges for the next Decade
Participants: A.K.A. "Pride and Sensorbility"
Ajay Kanji, Tempo Semiconductor Konstantin Merkher, CEVA
Adeel Aslam, Intel Matthew Altman, DTS
T V B Subrahmanyam (Subbu), Analog Devices Gerard Andrews, Cadence / Tensilica
Michael Vulikh, P-Product Anatoly Savchenkov, Synopsys
Avi Keren, DSP Group Jack Joseph Puig, Waves
David Roach, Magic Leap  
Facilitator: Jim Rippie, Invisible Industries PDF download the PDF

The group’s work focused on:

  • Exploring the audio sensor capabilities
  • Find new opportunities to fully utilize acoustic technologies 
  • Identify future applications
  • Maximize and expand the number and variety of sonic devices in different market segments

The group sought to define what an acoustic sensor is today and what it might be in the future. Using the following definition, the group characterized opportunities in various market segments and investigated challenges.


An audio sensor is a device that performs acoustic signal acquisition and analysis.
It will consist of the following functions:

  1. Getting signal  (Detection and/or Acquiring)
  2. Conversion (optional)
  3. Processing & Analysis
  4. Reaction

The following table lists the opportunities that the group identified. While indentifying the opportunities, the group recognized challenges that include technology, markets and adaptation. Specific follow up actions will include refining how we describe the opportunities and investigating how the industry can cooperate to enable these opportunities and build consumer trust and interest.

Click on the table to get a larger view of it in a new window.

Affected Market Segments, in priority order:




Elderly Response




Security System









Public Safety

Emergency Warning









The group referenced these reports from previous years of Project Bar-B-Q:

  1. 2014 BBQ - Audio opportunities in the Internet of Things
  2. 2013 BBQ - Using Sensor Data to Improve the User Experience of Audio Applications
  3. 2012 BBQ - Form Factors and Connectivity for Wearable Audio Devices (AKA Clothing Optional)

Additional items from the brainstorming sessions that the group thought were worth reporting:

Audio sensor is a device that performs acoustic signal acquisition and analysis.

  • Active or passive component
  • Analog or digital
  • Human audible or inaudible
  • Distributed or local system.
  • Analysis and/or processing
  • Auto ( Emergency vehicle approximation, back up detector, audio zoning through sound detection, driver awareness and health monitors, secondary sensor - accident indicator)
  • Home
    • Child Care (Monitor temperature, heartbeat, breath rate, abnormal vocalization)
    • Security System (broken glass detection, gunshot detection, identification of people or occupancy)
    • Elderly Response (slip and fall detection, detection of activity)
  • Medical (Medical patch)
  • Public Safety
    • Emergency Warnings (Sirens detection, gunshot detection, environmental detection)
    • Child Care (Monitor temperature, heartbeat, breath rate, abnormal vocalization)
    • Geological (seismic activity, avalanche, landslide)
  • Industrial
    • Maritime (Mechanical malfunction)
    • Avionics (engine status, fire detection, pressure leak detect, maintenance checks)
    • Manufacturing (maintenance of machines – bearing noise, quality control, detection of holes during construction or manufacturing, detecting fatigue)
    • Geological (detection of natural resources, detection of seismic event prompting shutdown)
  • Consumer (Touch less tablet pen plus microphone)
  • Mobile
    • Wearable (Contextual awareness, event trigger, monitor temperature, heartbeat, breath rate, abnormal vocalization, finger print detection)
  • Entertainment (mapping a room by an impulse response, compensation of room for playback)
  • Military (shot detection, bomb detection, supersonic detection, noise cancellation of mechanical noise, hacker intrusion detection)
  • Agriculture (insect and animal detection, weather detection, theft detection)
  • Voice
    • Emotion/mood
    • Language detection

Multiple categories
Contextual awareness, Voice recognition

Near Term Opportunities

Long Term Opportunities

  • Array of mics (distributed) in home, auto
    • Processed locally or in the cloud :: high capability in both
  • Light Switch
  • Light Bulb
  • Always on, ready to assist
  • Standards organization


  • Power across all the those devices
  • Is the echo now the baseline
    • Baseline of investment into the market
    • How to exceed? How soon?
  • Will intelligence/processing be local (soon?) or in the cloud
  • Competing technologies
    • Radar
    • Lidar
    • Cameras
      • Depth of field/ time of flight
      • Visual spectrum
      • Image processing
      • Eye gazing technology
        • Watching truck drivers – alert them when they are falling asleep
    • Accelerometers
    • Pressure sensors
  • Technology Challenges
    • Power consumption
    • Manufacturing device – size
    • Environmental situation
    • Algorithm
    • Data
    • Material
  • Business Challenges
    • Estimation of ROI to executive staff
    • Consumer adaptation
      • Personal privacy
      • Financial security
    • Feature too early for market

New audio sensors

  • Integrated optics
    • Advantage processing in the analog optical domain vs DSP domain should be faster
  • Nano technology
    • Newer material for power, size and efficiency
  • Pressure sensor microphones
    • Integrated with other sensors
  • Adaptation of form factors
    • Omni directional or array mics with configurable beam directionality
  • Microphone with finger print using ultrasonic

Market enablers
            Gathering and training the models based on the data to classify various events

section 4

next section

select a section:
1. Introduction
2. Workgroup Reports Overview
3. The Future of Voice Interfaces
4. Audio Sensor Opportunities: Market Requirements and Technology Challenges for the next Decade
5. Always Be Closing (This isnít marketing after all)
6. R.I/O.T: The Next Great Interactive Group Listening Experience!
7. The Need for a New Wireless Audio Network Standard
8. Creating Immersive Music with Audio Objects
9. Schedule & Sponsors