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3 December, 2020 - 17:13 By Tony Quested

Sounds sensational as Qualcomm and Audio Analytic trigger smartphone revolution

US powerhouse Qualcomm and Cambridge SoundTech pioneer Audio Analytic have forged a technology alliance that ensures 2021 will be the year smartphones understand the acoustic world around us.

Audio Analytic’s ai3-nano™ software and acoustic scene recognition AI technology is pre-validated and optimised to run in always-on, low-power mode running on the Qualcomm® Sensing Hub. 

As part of the new Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 888 5G Mobile Platform, the second generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub was unveiled at the Snapdragon Tech Summit Digital 2020. 

Smartphone OEMs can now create high-value benefits and features for consumers based around the phone knowing whether the user is in a chaotic, lively, calm or boring acoustic environment.

One of the many capabilities OEMs can deliver based on this contextual acoustic information, includes adapting how phones behave when calls or notifications arrive. 

No more embarrassing moments when you’ve left a chaotic coffee shop and returned to the calm office, only for your phone to ring at maximum volume at the most inappropriate moment. And no more missing important calls because your phone is still on vibrate when you’re in a busy bar. Plus, for the very first time, smartphone users will not have to reluctantly decide between either a voice assistant or sound recognition. 

The compact ai3-nano™ software takes up less than 40kB of space on the chipset, enabling it to run concurrently with the low-power audio subsystem within the Qualcomm® AI Engine and the Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio codec. 

Qualcomm Aqstic is a core part of the Qualcomm® Voice Assist technology, which supports voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and more.

As well as always-on acoustic scene recognition, Audio Analytic has also unveiled further new applications for sound recognition on smartphones. The suite includes media tagging; this automatically tags the audio content of videos and photos to enable creative editing, social sharing, or easy retrieval.

Users can swiftly locate that special moment where their child was laughing on holiday. Or edit and share creative content across social media that takes advantage of sound-related effects and filters applied when a guitar is played.

With the Sound+AR Gaming function, users can trigger funny video filters and effects based on the sounds they make for spontaneous silliness in video chats or games with friends and family. Old MacDonald Had a Farm will never be the same again.

As with all of Audio Analytic’s technology these applications run on-device. This means that no information is sent to the cloud for analysis so consumers can take advantage of cool new features without worrying about their privacy. 

Plus, thanks to its ultra-compact code footprint, Audio Analytic’s embedded software can support multiple use cases without wiping out the battery.

Audio Analytic CEO Dr Chris Mitchell said: “Sound recognition is the most exciting branch of artificial intelligence right now. As humans, we make sense of the world around us through sound, and by empowering machines with a human-like sense of hearing we’re enabling the next wave of innovation on smartphones.”

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