Qualcomm Announces Smart Speaker Reference Design – CES 2018

Qualcomm Logo 2017 AH 1

At CES 2018 Qualcomm Technologies announced its plans to release a smart speaker development kit in the first half of the year in an attempt to help audio manufacturers in streamlining the development process of such products. The tech giant will offer development kits for smart speakers at a wide range of price points, giving manufacturers the necessary tools to cover all the segments in this rapidly expanding market area. The solution will be based on Qualcomm’s Smart Audio Platform launched in mid-2017, and will combine silicon with voice user interfaces, connectivity features, and premium audio technologies.

Qualcomm’s smart speaker development kit based on the Smart Audio Platform features a Wi-Fi certified SoM (System-on-Module) designed to integrate key system components in a single module at lower costs. The development kit will virtually offer audio manufacturers a reference design for their products, and the kit should allow for the development of smart speakers at a variety of price points. The reference design is equipped with a six-microphone array for far-field voice recognition and high-performance wake-word detection, and adopts advanced audio technologies such as echo cancellation pre-tuned to the hardware. The reference design will be presented in a speaker housing promoting a 360-degree sound experience, and as far as software goes the development kit will support both Linux and the Android Things operating system for the Internet of Things.

The smart speaker market is expected to continue and grow over the next couple of years, and this has been reflected by the relatively large number of OEMs and new startups bringing their smart speaker solutions at CES 2018. With a market expected to worth $10 billion in revenue by 2020, Qualcomm intends to create a reference design for developers that may lack the necessary research time, financial backing, or expertise in certain areas, and help them bring their ideas and products to the market faster and at a variety of price points. The tech giant expects the first development kits to be made available in the first half of 2018 but exact pricing and specifications remain unknown for the time being. In the meantime, Qualcomm is demonstrating its Smart Audio Platform which will be used as the basis of the smart speaker reference design/development kit at its CES booth in Central Hall.