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Posts Tagged ‘audio’

Sony Spritzer is an Arduino Compatible Board with Built-in GPS, Audio Codec

August 14th, 2017 9 comments

Look who is joining the maker community! Sony has showcased their Arduino compatible Spritzer board during the Maker Faire Tokyo on August 5-6. Despite lacking on-board network connectivity, the board is said to have been designed for IoT applications with features such as an integrated GPS and an advanced digital audio codec and amplifier.

Sony Spritzer specifications:

  • MCU – Sony CDX5602 ARM Cortex-M4F ×6 micro-controller clocked at up to 156 MHz with 1.5MB SRAM
  • Storage – 8MB Flash Memory, micro SD card
  • GNSS – GPS, GLONASS, supported
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack
  • Expansion I/Os
    • Digital I/O Pins – SPI, I2C, UART, PWM ×4 (3.3V)
    • Analog Pins – 6ch (3.3V range)
    • Audio I/O – 8ch Digital MICs or 4ch Analog MICs, Stereo Speaker, I2S, CXD5247 audio codec with 192 kHz/24bit High-Resolution audio
    • 2x camera interfaces
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for programming
  • Power Supply – Via Power barrel and Vin pin?
  • Dimensions – Arduino UNO form factor?

In case you wonder why they bother to include GPS, but not WiFi or Bluetooth, that’s because the board is actually based on a Sony GPS chipset (CDX5602GF or CDX5602GG) that’s manufactured using FD-SOI process allowing for much lower power consumption. I don’t understand the meaning of “x6” in the specs, unless that’s an hexa-core Cortex M4F MCU, which I don’t think is possible.

Click to Enlarge

The block diagram above does a decent job at explaining what’s feasible with the two chipsets used in the board. You’ll have to connect external module to get Bluetooth, WiFi, and LTE, a display up to 360×240 resolution can be used via SPI, all sort of sensors can be connected via the expansion header, the board is suitable for microphone arrays, and it can be powered by batteries thanks to a charger circuit and fuel gauge inside CXD5247 audio codec / PMU chip. The board can be programmed with the Arduino IDE and USB cable.

The company demonstrated the board the Maker Faire with a drone utilizing the GPS and the 6-axis sensor support, a smart speaker utilizing the audio functions, a self-driving line-tracing miniature car, and a low-power smart sensing IoT camera using the camera interface of Spritzer.

You’ll have to get patient before getting hold the board, as the Spritzer board is planned to be available for developers in early 2018. Visit the product page (in Japanese) for more details.

Thanks to Jasbir for the tip.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 Boards – Intrinsyc Open-Q 212 and Kaynes Technology SKATE-212

July 7th, 2017 No comments

Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 (APQ8009) quad core Cortex A7 processor is used in entry-level smartphones, but it’s also one of the processors which the company expects to use in their Smart Speaker Platform leveraging Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and other A.I. voice services. Two company has designed single board computers that can be used for this purpose: Intrisync Open-Q 212 and Kaynes Technology SKATE-212.

Intrisync Open-Q 212 SBC Development Board

Contrary to some other Open-Q board, but not all, Open-Q 212 is not comprise of a baseboard and a system-on-module, as everything is soldered on a single PCB. Open-Q 212 specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 (APQ8009) quad core ARM Cortex A7 processor @ 1.267GHz with Adreno 304 GPU, QDSP6 DSP
  • System Memory – 1GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC (non-POP) flash and micro SD card socket
  • Connectivity – Ethernet,  pre-scanned Wi-Fi 802.11n 2.4Ghz (WCN3610) with chip and U.FL antennas, Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • Display – Up to 720p LCD; up to 720p HDMI Type A
  • Video Codec – [email protected] playback; up to 720p playback with H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HVEC); up to 720p H.264 (AVC) capture
  • udio
    • WCD9326 audio codec
    • 4x microphone inputs
    • 2x amplified speaker outputs, 2x stereo line outputs
    • Qualcomm Fluence HD with Noise Cancellation, Qualcomm Snapdragon Voice Activation, Qualcomm Snapdragon Voice+
  • Cameras – Up to 8MP over 2-lane MIPI CSI
  • Misc – Serial,  RTC, I2S, GPIO, Sensor header
  • Power Supply
    • 12V/3A or single-cell Li-Ion battery
    • PMIC (PM8208) and Li-Ion battery support (SMB1357/STC3117)
  • Dimensions – 120mm x 120mm (Nano-ITX form factor)
  • Temperature Range – 0oC to +70oC

The board support Android 7 Nougat by default, but you’d have to give them call to ask for Linux support, and possibly pay some NRE fees.

Intrinsyc is not exactly known for their cheap development boards and SBCs, and while they call it a low cost board, it’s sold for $595 without LCD, microphones, and cameras, and with shipping scheduled for the end of July. You’ll find more info on the product page.

Kaynes Technology SKATE-212 SBC

Click to Enlarge

SKATE-212, made by an Indian embedded systems and manufacturing company, is likely to be quite cheaper, but I could not find any picture for now, only the block diagram above, and the specifications:

  • SoC –  Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.3GHz with Adreno 304 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL, DirectX
  • System Memory – 1 GB LPDDR3 (Expandable upto 2GB)
  • Storage – 8 GB eMMC flash (Expandable upto 16GB) +  micro SD slot
  • Video Output / Display  – 7″ capacitive touchscreen, full size HDMI port (Only one or the other can be used at a given time)
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.x LE, GPS with optional GLONASS support
  • USB – 1x micro USB device port (Can not be used at the same time as Ethernet, and other USB host ports), 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB debug console
  • Camera –  8 MP primary camera; 2MP secondary camera
  • Audio
    • Mono loudspeaker output
    • 3.5mm stereo audio jack with mic
    • On board single (default)or dual microphone
  • Sensors – 6-axis MEMS gyroscope & Accelerometer;3-axis Magnetometer
  • Power supply – 12VDC power adapter or optional 3.7V/2,500 mAh battery
  • Dimensions – 90 x 70 mm

The company explains the board is well suited for Android or Linux based applications for industrial, medical, IIoT, mission critical and surveillance verticals. The 7″ LCD display and 8MP OV8865 camera module will be sold as options.

Availability and price are not known at this stage. You may want visit the product page for a few more details, and possibly request more documents by email via the Documents tab on the page.

Intel Quark S1000 “Sue Creek” Processor to Support On-Chip Speech Recognition

June 19th, 2017 3 comments

Intel may have announced plans to discontinue several of their IoT boards, but based on some documents I received, the company has not given up on the Quark family, although they may have given up on the Intel architecture for low power microprocessor, as Intel Quark S1000 – codenamed “Sue Creek” – will feature two Tensilica LX6 cores (yes, just like ESP32), and is designed to handle speech recognition at the edge (e.g. locally), so some of your voice commands should still work when Internet is down.

Intel Quark S1000 key features and specifications:

  • Digital Signal Processors
    • Dual Tensilica LX6 cores @ 400 MHz with HiFi3 DSP
    • Single precision scalar floating-point instructions
    • 16KB 4-way I$; 48KB 4-way D$
    • Up to 2400 DMIPS, 3.2 GMACS (16×16), 800 MFLOPS of Compute
  • Speech Accelerators
    • A GMM (Gaussian Mixture Model) and neural network accelerator
    • Low power keyboard and limited vocabulary recognition
    • Up to 9.6 GMACS (16×16) of compute
  • Internal Memory
    • 4MB shared embedded SRAM
    • 64KB embedded SRAM for streaming samples in low power mode
  • External Memory Interfaces
    • Up to 8MB external 16-bit PSRAM
    • Up to 128MB external SPI flash
  •  I/O Interfaces
    • Host I/O – SPI for command and control, I2S for streaming audio, IRQ, reset, wake, optional USB 2.0 HS device
    • Microphone – I2S/TDM 9.6 MHz max. bit clock
    • Digital Microphone – 4 PDM ports 4.8 MHz max. bit clock
    • Speaker – I2S/TDM 9.6 MHz max. bit clock
    • Instrumentation – I2C master @ 100/400 MHz
    • Debug – UART Tx/Rx/RTS?CTS up to 2.4 Mbaud/s
    • GPIO – 10 mA sink/source, 8x PWM outputs
  • Power Management / Consumption
    • Low power idle (memory retention); voice activity detection; play through; full active
    • Clock and power gating support
    • < 20 mW voice activity detection
    • < 250 mW full active
  • Package (preliminary) – FCCSP132 7.45 x 8.3mm 0.6/0.7mm pitch staggered/orthogonal
  • Temperature Range – Commercial: 0 to 70 °C; industrial: -40 to +85 °C

The diagram above shows Quark S100 is supposed to be connected to a host processor providing network connectivity, getting commands over SPI, audio over I2S, and the Intel processor can handle some speech recognition likely for a limited subset of words, and use cloud based recognition for more complex requests. The solution could be used in product like Google Home or Amazon Echo look-a-likes, or other voice-controlled appliances.

I don’t know when the processor will be available, and I could not find any information online yet.

Qualcomm Announces Audio Platforms for Smart Speakers, Headphones, and Hearables

June 15th, 2017 No comments

Smart speakers are getting a lot of buzz recently with products like Amazon Echo or Google Home, and many home automation products are advertised with Amazon’s Alexa support, so that they can be controlled by voice commands. Qualcomm is now going after this market, and others audio markets via 5 new platforms for streaming audio, high resolution audio, wireless audio, USB -C audio devices – due to the “death” of the 3.5mm headphone jack -, and hearables.

The five platforms include:

  1. Bluetooth and BLE Audio SoCs such as Qualcomm CSRA68100 for premium wireless speakers and headphones. The SoC comes with flash, DSP, a 2-ch audio CODEC, USB & I/Os interfaces.
  2. Qualcomm QCC3xxx entry-level Bluetooth audio SoC for mid to low-cost Bluetooth headsets and speakers.
  3. Qualcomm WHS9420 (192kHz/24-bit audio) and WHS9410 (entry-level) USB-C audio SoC for USB-C headphones
  4. Qualcomm DDFA Digital Amplifier Technology with CSRA6xxx amplifier
  5. Smart Speaker Platform shown above based on APQ8017 or APQ8009 (Snapdragon 212) SoCs, and DDFA amplifier, and interacting with Bluetooth and USB-C solutions listed above.

The Smart Speaker Platform will support multi-mic far-field voice capability with “highly responsive voice activation and beamforming technologies”, multi-room audio streaming through Qualcomm AllPlay, and AptX HD audio technology. Support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Google Cast Audio is coming later this year,

You may be able to find more details about Android and Linux solutions based on APQ8009 and APQ8017 on that Qualcomm page (provided you can gain access).

The Qualcomm Smart Audio Platform is expected to be available in Q3 2017.

AIY Projects Voice Kit Transforms Raspberry Pi 3 Into Google Home, Comes Free with Raspberry Pi Magazine

May 5th, 2017 11 comments

We’ve just reported about the preview release of Google Assistant SDK that works on the Raspberry Pi 3, and other boards with a microphone, speakers, and access to Internet. The Raspberry Pi foundation and Google have now made it even easier, as they launched AIY Projects Voice Kit with a Google Voice HAT, a speaker, a stereo microphone Voice HAT board, a button, a few cables, and a cardboard case.

You’ll just need to add your own Raspberry Pi 3, follow the instructions to assemble kits, load and setup the software. Once this is all done, you’ll be able to press the top button, asking anything you want to Google Voice, including the weather.

Price? Sort of free, as it comes with MagPi 57 magazine, where you’ll also find detailed instructions for the kit. Google AIY Projects got its name from a mix between (DIY) and artificial intelligence (AI), and considering it’s “Projects” and not just “Project”, we can expect more kits in the future.

Google Assistant SDK Turns Your Raspberry Pi 3 into Google Home

May 3rd, 2017 7 comments

Google Home allows you to select music, control your home automation system and more with voice commands, but now you can do the same with a Raspberry Pi 3 as Google released a developer preview (alpha v1) of the Google Assistant API that works on Raspberry Pi 3, and other development boards running Debian or Ubuntu.
Functionalities are limited right now, with RPC API and Python sample code, but it only works with English language, and features such as timers & alarm, playing music, news, or podcasts, and precise location are not supported. Location is determined using your IP address only, and if you’re using some third party services / products such as Uber or Hue, you’ll need an actual Google Home device for initial setup.

Google has provided instructions to use Google Assistant SDK with Raspberry Pi 3 board. First you’ll need a USB microphone ($5.99 on Amazon), and speakers connected via USB or the 3.5 mm audio jack. After installing Raspbian on the board, you’ll need to configure a developer project and account settings, configure and test audio (with arecord/aplay), and finally install Python and the Assistant API sample:

Once this is done, authorize and run the sample:

Press Enter, ask something, and your Raspberry Pi 3 board should answer.

Since you just need audio and network working on the hardware, this should also work on other development boards, and Google has indeed provided instructions for other platforms too. Basically the same steps, but less detailed, except for the authorization part which seems a little more complicated.

Thanks to Harley for the tip.

Google Releases Android O Developer Preview with UI & Audio Improvements, Better Performance, etc…

March 22nd, 2017 No comments

Nearly exactly one year after Android N developer preview release, Google has now announced the release of Android O developer preview in order to get feedback from the developer community before the official release of Android 8.0? Oreo? in Q3 2017.

So what’s new so far in Android O? Here are some of the changes:

  • Background activity limits –  Automatic limits on what apps can do in the background for implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates.
  • Notification channels –  New app-defined categories for notification content for better control from the use, as user may only block or change the behavior from one channel, instead of applying the same behavior to all notifications from a given app. For example, a News app may have notifications for Technology, Sports, Politics, International, etc…
  • Autofill APIs – Platform support for autofill, where users can select an autofill app, similar to the way they select a keyboard app, with the app securely storing  addresses, user names, and even passwords.
  • PIP for handsets and new windowing features – Picture in Picture (PIP) display is now working on phones and tablets, so users can continue watching a video while they’re answering a chat or hailing a car. Other window features include overlay window and multi-display support.
  • Font resources in XML – Apps can now use fonts in XML layouts as well as define font families in XML — declaring the font style and weight along with the font files.
  • Adaptive icons  Icons that can be displayed in different shapes, e.g. round or rounded square based on a mask selected by the device. Animated interactions with the icons are also supported.
  • Wide-gamut color for apps – Android developers of imaging apps can now take advantage of new devices that have a wide-gamut color capable display.
  • Connectivity 
    • Support for high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs such as LDAC codec.
    • Wi-Fi Aware support, aka Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN), allowing to discover and communicate over WiFi without an Internet access point
    • Extension of ConnectionService APIs to enable third party calling apps integrate with System UI and operate seamlessly with other audio apps.
  • Keyboard navigation –  Better use of “arrow” and “tab” navigation key for systems connected to keyboard such as Chrome OS with Google Play.
  • AAudio API for Pro Audio –  Native API designed for high-performance, low-latency audio.
  • WebView enhancements –  Multiprocess mode enabled by default, and new API for errors and crashes handling.
  • Java 8 Language APIs and runtime optimizations  – New Java Language APIs, such as java.time API. Android Runtime is up to 2x faster on some application benchmarks. 

Google has provided system images for Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel C, and Pixel XL devices. You’ll find more details about the preview on Android Developer website.

Categories: Android, Chrome OS Tags: Android, audio, battery, google, oreo, sdk

$32 Bluetooth 4.1 Audio Transmitter and Receiver Comes with S/PDIF Ports, a 3.5mm Audio Jack

March 20th, 2017 7 comments

As I browsed through DealExtreme new arrivals, I found a type of device I had not noticed in the past: a Bluetooth Audio transmitter and receiver that come with optical SPDIF input and output, as well as 3.5mm AUX port, and sells for $31.99 shipped on DX.

Let’s have a look at the hardware first

  • Audio In & Out – 3.5mm AUX port, SPDIF IN, SPDIF OUT
  • Buttons – Tx/Rx mode selection, SPDIF/AUX selection, multifunction button
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.1 with 10 meters range; use aptX low latency audio
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Battery – 350mAh rechargeable battery good for 15 hours on a charge; Charging time: 2 hours
  • Dimensions – 6 cm x 6 cm x 1.84 cm

The little device ships with a micro USB Cable for charging, a 3.5mm AUX cable, an optical TOSLINK cable, an RCA Cable, and a user manual.

TX mode allows you to connect your devices without Bluetooth such as older TVs, computers without Bluetooth, MP3 players, etc… to Bluetooth speakers using one of the three provided cables.

RX mode allows you to play audio from your smartphone or tablet to your audio systems lacking Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity such as wired headphones, car stereo, or home stereo system.

There aren’t any reviews on DX yet, but the product is also sold on Amazon US, with users’ reviews generally positive, except one person complaining that

Description states “continuous use” with cable and directions state “Do not leave charging cable connected “

So you can’t leave the micro USB cable attached all the time, which can be a pain. However, another reviewer claims that “it also supports working while charging; you can plug in or unplug the external USB power charger any time you want“, so go figure.

If you only care about a specific use case, there are cheaper options. For example, I’ve been using a Bluetooth FM transmitter in my car, which I bought for about $10 in order to listen music from a micro SD card or my smartphone. I’ve been using for several months, and it works well enough provided you are happy with “FM radio” audio quality.

Categories: Audio, Hardware Tags: audio, bluetooth, spdif