Monday, August 25, 2014

QNX Acoustics for Voice — a new name and a new benchmark in acoustic processing

Tina Jeffrey
Earlier this month, QNX Software Systems officially released QNX Acoustics for Voice 3.0 — the company’s latest generation of acoustic processing software for automotive hands-free voice communications. The solution sets a new benchmark in hands-free quality and supports the rigorous requirements of smartphone connectivity specifications.

Designed as a complete software solution, the product includes both the QNX Acoustics for Voice signal-processing library and the QWALive tool for tuning and configuration.

The signal-processing library manages the flow of audio during a hands-free voice call. It defines two paths: the send path, which handles audio flowing from the microphones to the far end of the call, and the receive path, which handles audio flowing from the far end to the loudspeakers in the car:

QWALive, used throughout development and pre-production phases, gives developers realtime control over all library parameters to accelerate tuning and diagnosis of audio issues:

A look under the hood
QNX Acoustics for Voice 3.0 builds on QNX Software Systems’ best-in-class acoustic echo cancellation and noise reduction algorithms, road-proven in tens of millions of cars, and offers breakthrough advancements over existing solutions.

Let me run through some of the innovative features that are already making waves (sorry, couldn’t resist) among automotive developers.

Perhaps the most significant innovation is our high efficiency technology. Why? Well, simply put, it saves up to 30% both in CPU load and in memory requirements for wideband (16 kHz sample rate for HD Voice) and Wideband Plus (24 kHz sample rate). This translates into the ability to do more processing on existing hardware, and with less memory. For instance, automakers can enable new smartphone connectivity capabilities on current hardware, without compromising performance:

Another feature that premieres with this release is intelligent voice optimization technology, designed to accelerate and increase the robustness of send-path tuning. This technology implements an automated frequency response correction model that dynamically adjusts the frequency response of the send path to compensate for variations in the acoustic path and vehicle cabin conditions.

Dynamic noise shaping, which is exclusive to QNX Acoustics for Voice, also debuts in this release. It enhances speech quality in the send path by reducing broadband noise from fans, defrost vents, and HVAC systems — a welcome feature, as broadband noise can be particularly difficult for hands-free systems to contend with.

Flexibility and portability — check and check
Like its predecessor (QNX Aviage Acoustic Processing 2.0), QNX Acoustics for Voice 3.0 continues to offer maximum flexibility to automakers. The modular software library comes with a comprehensive API, easing integration efforts into infotainment, telematics, and audio amplifier modules. Developers can choose from fixed- and floating-point versions that can be ported to a variety of operating systems and deployed on a wide range of processors or DSPs.

We’re excited about this release as it’s the most sophisticated acoustic voice processing solution available to date, and it allows automakers to build and hone systems for a variety of speech requirements, across all their vehicle platforms.

Check out the QNX Acoustics for Voice product page to learn more.

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