On the first day of the Texas Instruments Developers Conference in Dallas, TX, communications—both wired and wireless—took the spotlight. During keynote presentations, participants learned more about WiMAX network systems, terrestrial high-definition radio, and theater-quality surround-sound audio, all brought about through the magic of analog and signal-processing electronics. Yasser Hannush, Director of Product Development at Navini (Richardson, TX), explained his company’s innovative use of digital-signal processor (DSP) chips and analog electronics to provide a WiMAX network that employs a “smart antenna.” The antenna compares incoming signals to “steer” the sensitivity to active transmitters and will thus reduce the effect of interfering signals. The beam-steering technology relies heavily on DSP chips to process received signals in real time. The company’s offers both base-stations and mobile products that simplify the transition from older technologies to the newer IEEE 802.16e standard aimed squarely at mobile applications.
If you wonder how traditional AM and FM broadcasters will answer competition from satellite radio systems Sirius and XM, a look at terrestrial high-definition (HD) radio may provide a partial answer. Bob Dillon, Director of Strategic Marketing for Ibiquity Digital (Columbia, MD) demonstrated the capability of existing AM and FM stations to multicast digital signals along with normal FM and AM broadcasts. Digital HD radio programming means listeners will receive CD-quality sound along with integrated wireless data services that will put news and entertainment in their dashboards and in their pockets. This FCC-approved broadcast technology provides digital broadcaster-to-listener information within the spectrum allocation for a commercial radio station, while the station continues analog broadcasts to legacy receivers. Several companies already offer HD radio receivers. Thank digital-signal-processing techniques for this capability.
If you’d rather get your sound from a DVD player or cable channel, you’ll find SRS Labs (Santa Ana, CA) has anticipated your audio desires. The company has developed and deployed signal-processing audio software for what it calls “Circle Surround” and now works with Texas Instruments, and other chip companies, as a licensor of its intellectual property. The company’s high-definition sound reproduction IP includes something for almost every type of digital audio player. Alan Kraemer, CTO at SRS Labs demonstrated the extraction of Circle Surround 5.1 audio from the equivalent bandwidth of a stereo audio system. The company used its Circle Surround Encoder to record the audio portion of a live Duran Duran concert and then reproduced the sound—from 2-channel audio—by using a Circle Surround decoder. The booming surround sound engulfed the early morning audience at the start of TI’s three-day conference.