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The Twenty-first Annual Interactive Audio Conference
PROJECT BAR-B-Q 2016
BBQ Group Report: The Need for a New Wireless Audio Network Standard
   
Participants: A.K.A. "Untangled: The End of Wire"
Marcus Altman, Dolby Howard Brown, Owl Labs
Miguel Chavez, Analog Devices Rick Cohen, Quibiq
Peter Eastty, Apple Whit Hutson, Conexant
Craig Linssen, Apple Josh McMahon, Realtek
David Mollerstedt, teenage engineering Randy Stephens, Cirrus Logic
   
Facilitator: Aaron Higgins, 1010 Music  
  PDF download the PDF
 

Brief statement of the problem on which the group worked

New audio scenarios require seamless support from an audio first standardized ad hoc network.

A brief statement of the group’s solution:
 
The group defined a set of use case scenarios. Need requirements were discussed. Existing network architectures were compared against listed requirements and came up short. Therefore a new audio first standardized ad hoc network is needed.

Top 4 use case scenarios:

  1. In person meeting/conference call: multiple people at a table. Each individual places their phone on the table in front of them. The phone microphone in front of person A pickups their voice and it is transmitted to the phone speaker in front of person B at the other end of the table. Concurrently, a person from a different location may join the conversation
    1. Network hearing aid: a different use case scenario using the same implementation
  2. Natural language control: phone or other microphone is used to control the networked home
  3. Wall of sound: multiple people in a room want to listen to the same music. Instead of requiring an external speaker to make the music loud enough for everyone, each person’s phone is synchronized and used to play the music from each individual’s phone
  4. Surround recording with multiple sources: imagine a symphony (or other group of musicians). Each musician places their phone or other recording device on their music stand and wirelessly transmits audio to a recording medium. Further, multiple recording devices could be used to capture the ambiance of the room from multiple locations of a single (or more) source. Or, multiple musicians in different locations could be recorded at the same time.

Below is the list of requirements compared to existing support in existing wireless technologies

Requirements

WiFi

5G

BT

BLE

Low Power

no

?

maybe

yes

Reliable audio communication

?

?

no

?

Controllable latency

no

?

no

?

Geometry/Location reporting

no

no

no

no

Low cost

no

?

yes

yes

Non-proprietary

yes

yes

yes

yes

Discoverability

yes

yes

yes

yes

Self configuring network

yes

?

no

no

Geometry/Location reporting

no

no

no

no

Nearfield inter-communcation

yes

yes

yes

yes

Hubless multi peer connectivity

yes

?

yes

yes

Multi-bidirectional audio channels

yes

yes

?

?

Scalable audio channel count

yes

yes

no

?

Versatile audio formats

yes

yes

yes

?

Command & Control

yes

yes

yes

yes

Highly accurate synchronization

yes

?

no

?

Expanded statement of work:

We are now living in a world where almost everyone is wearing a microphone and speaker (i.e., a smartphone). This provides a wonderfully wrapped present that has yet to be opened. Why have we not yet taken advantage of the possibilities?

Our workgroup development a list of over 10 use case scenarios that could be possible based on a world where everyone carries a smart phone.

  1. In person meeting/conference call: multiple people at a table. Everyone puts their phone on the table in front of them. The phones are used so that people at one end of the table can better hear people at the other end of the table. i.e., phone microphones at pickup the voices at one end of the table and transmit them to the phone speakers at the other end of the table. In addition, if being used to conference with people not in the room, the multiple microphones in the room could be used together in a beam forming aspect to better pick up the voices in the room.
  2. Translator function: two people are talking to each other but speak different languages. The microphones could pickup one’s voices, an app or algorithm would do the translation, and then transmit it to the speaker or headphone in the other person’s phone.
  3. Video with local microphone: Video is being recorded or transmitted of someone else. Instead of using the microphone in the phone of the person recording the video, audio can be recorded from the phone of the person being recorded. The end result is that the recorded voice will be cleaner and clearer.
  4. Networked hear aid: current hearing aid solutions use a microphone worn by the person needing the hearing aid. Audio would be much clearer if audio was recorded on the phone of the person doing the speaking.
  5. Wall of sound: a group of people are gathered and would like to listen to the same music or other audio. Instead of huddling around one phone, or requiring an external speaker, the music could be broadcast to everyone’s phone.
  6. Follow me around the house: as the user walks through the house, their movement is detected and speakers are turned on and off as appropriate. This requires no setup at the speakers and phone will communicate location and configuration to each other automatically.
  7. Seamless transition conferencing: a user can be on a call and transition from one WiFi network, to 5G cell service, to another WiFi network, all without dropping the call. This actually is more of a networking issue and is likely solved by a different solution, but still falls within the nature of what is trying to be accomplished.
  8. God mode: probably not legal, but an individual may walk down the street and broadcast audio to the phones of those in proximity. At first glance this would be used for propaganda or advertising, but in practicality some sort of opt in ought to be required that would negate these uses. Perhaps some other use could be found for this in the future, such as communication of local emergencies.
  9. Surround recording with multiple devices: multiple recording devices are placed in different locations of a recording space. Placement of the devices such that the ambiance and sound of the room is captured.
  10. Multitrack recording with devices: each source or musician would be recorded directly using phone microphones or other recording devices. The audio being recorded would be transmitted to some other recording medium. Musicians may or may not be located in the same location.
  11. Concert/crowd sound playback: concert attendees can all receive live music via their phones and listening devices (headphones, phone speakers) of their choosing. Attendees are no longer subjected to overly loud music with too much echo.
  12. Natural language control: the user uses their phone or other microphone to control their networked home.

Based on the above use case scenarios, many technical requirements are derived such as low latency, low power, and discoverability. Below is a list of these requirements and a comparison to existing and known applicable wireless architectures. The end result is that there is not a currently known architecture that supports all technical needs required by the above use case scenario.

Requirements

WiFi

5G

BT

BLE

Low Power

no

?

maybe

yes

Reliable audio communication

?

?

no

?

Controllable latency

no

?

no

?

Geometry/Location reporting

no

no

no

no

Low cost

no

?

yes

yes

Non-proprietary

yes

yes

yes

yes

Discoverability

yes

yes

yes

yes

Self configuring network

yes

?

no

no

Geometry/Location reporting

no

no

no

no

Nearfield inter-communcation

yes

yes

yes

yes

Hubless multi peer connectivity

yes

?

yes

yes

Multi-bidirectional audio channels

yes

yes

?

?

Scalable audio channel count

yes

yes

no

?

Versatile audio formats

yes

yes

yes

?

Command & Control

yes

yes

yes

yes

Highly accurate synchronization

yes

?

no

?

As current architectures are not fully suitable to support the suggested use case scenarios, a new technology must be required.

section 7


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