Synaptics-Enabled Accessory Will Add Voice Assistant Tech To Existing STBs

In short: Synaptics today announced two solutions designed to help facilitate the adoption of voice assistants, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, on set-top-boxes (STBs), including Android-based devices. The first is a solution for new products which can be included at the device level, while the second will add voice assistant compatibility to existing STBs. Synaptics has yet to confirm when end users can expect to see the technology included in devices.

Background: Far-field voice technology has proven to be big business of late with nearly everyone looking to get in on the action. This also includes TV and TV-related accessory manufacturers, as well as service providers, with a view to ensuring the TV not only remains the central point of a living room, but also affording device owners the option to control the TV without having to continue to rely on a traditional remote control. These two new solutions are looking to collectively appeal to both new and existing devices by equipping both with the same Synaptics-based far-field technology, AudioSmart. Makers of new devices will be able to leverage the new tech simply by including the company’s VideoSmart VS-550 multimedia processor in a device, while existing STB users can add the technology to a device by connecting a USB accessory equipped with the same AudioSmart technology.

Impact: Of the two new options, the aftermarket solution is likely to be the more interesting due to the number of STBs that are already in use by consumers and especially when considering the only real caveat seems to be the need for a USB socket to physically connect the Synaptics-enabled USB accessory to. Making it a solution which will immediately appeal to a number of companies (and their users) who are not currently looking to upgrade their hardware. As for the built-in solution, this now adds to the many ways in which manufacturers can include voice assistant support at the system level, although it does boast the added benefit of being a single-chip solution. Also this week, Synaptics announced a new end-to-end Android TV solution for Pay-TV operators, and although not confirmed in today’s announcement, it would seem likely the new Android TV solution will draw on the company's AudioSmart technology for voice assistant support.

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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]