Knowles Launches Advanced Audio Solution for Hearables and Premium Earphones

July 21 2016, 04:00
Advanced micro-acoustic, audio processing, and specialty component solutions specialists, Knowles Corporation, announced the launch of Versant advanced voice technology, an advanced audio solution for hearables and premium earphones that optimizes the user’s voice in noisy environments, such as wind or crowds. A first implementation example includes Munich-based, Bragi, which has recently introduced a software upgrade to its The Dash earbuds featuring Knowles Versant technology.

According to Knowles, this breakthrough technology offers clear advantages over existing approaches to voice capture in noisy and windy environments, and enables smaller, more elegant product designs, as well as the freedom for hands-free voice control. “Versant advanced voice technology outperforms premium headsets in every tested environment. In 2015, 65 percent of smartphone owners reported using voice assistants, more than doubling from users reporting in 2013 (source: Thrive Analytics, “Local Search Reports” 2013-2015). With the demand for hands-free control of a device increasing at a rapid pace, Versant is well positioned to address users’ toughest challenges,” they state.

According to Knowles, performance levels for headsets featuring the new Versant technology is considered better than existing designs on difficult noisy environments such as a busy café and highly efficient in applications such as inside a vehicle, outdoor urban environments, and windy areas even with higher-speed wind (>15+ mph).

“Knowles’ decades of audio experience in hearing health and consumer markets places us in an ideal position to solve the challenges faced by hearable innovators,” says Tom Stroebel, senior director, Intelligent Audio, Knowles Corporation. “With at least one microphone facing the outside world and another in the ear canal, Versant advanced voice technology leverages Knowles’ unique expertise in acoustics, audio engineering, signal processing and best-in-class algorithm development to radically improve voice communication, and is a disruptive leap forward for the industry. The technology’s performance in crowds or in moderate-to-high winds adds a critical benefit for next-generation hearable devices. It also enables manufacturers to create beautiful designs with the smallest possible form factor.”

The Versant solution uses a unique combination of multiple Knowles’ SiSonic MEMS microphones, specifically combined with a best-in-class noise suppression algorithm to detect the user’s voice and environmental noise. The solution continuously captures the most desirable audio and filters background noise to deliver improved voice quality despite noise in the Versant-enabled device’s surroundings. The engineered solution, with multiple patents pending, is typically paired with and enabled by a very small, high-performance balanced armature speaker to reduce the overall size and power consumption, and offer a premium listening experience.

Existing users and new customers of Munich-based, Bragi’s inaugural product, The Dash, are now experiencing the benefits of Versant advanced voice technology from Knowles. The Dash was one of the very first wireless earbud designs to be presented to the market, combining high-quality audio with audio coaching, tracking movement and biometric data sensors. Bragi promoted the first “hearable” concept with one of the most successful European crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter ever and was the recipient of the CES 2015 “Best of Innovation Honorees” in the Headphones category. Unfortunately, like with so many other similar concepts launched since then, technology wasn’t on par with the project’s ambitions and it took Bragi some time to actually deliver the product, originally planned for 2015. Knowles Versant technology was now added to The Dash as part of the latest software upgrade issued on July 12, 2016.

Headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, Knowles is using its leading position in MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) microphones and strong capabilities in audio processing technologies to optimize audio systems and improve the user experience in smartphones, tablets, and wearables. Knowles is also a leading manufacturer in acoustics components used in hearing aids and has a strong position in high-end oscillators (timing devices) and capacitors.
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