Qualcomm Unveils Breakthrough Adaptive Active Noise Canceling Technology for True Wireless Earbuds

September 3 2020, 09:00
Qualcomm Technologies International, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, launched Qualcomm Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) a new technology designed to deliver an improved user experience for earbuds with integrated ANC. The Adaptive ANC technology is designed to enhance user comfort and provide consistent sound quality for true wireless earbuds by adapting its performance to meet variations in how an earbud fits in a user’s ear, and adapt in real-time to changes in fit as the earbuds are in use.

"Our 2020 State of Play report found that consumer demand for active noise cancellation has increased year on year and it is now the fourth most wanted feature for earbuds (ed: after sound quality, battery life and comfort). This makes it a key differentiator for manufacturers," says James Chapman, vice president and general manager, Voice, Music & Wearables, Qualcomm Technologies, International. "However, it can sometimes be difficult for OEMs to deliver consistent ANC performance because earbuds will not always have the same fit or be placed in the ear in the same way, and both how and where a consumer uses these devices can vary greatly. We have designed our Adaptive ANC to help customers deliver consistent performance levels and great sound for the largest possible number of consumers."

Qualcomm's 2020 State of Play report also showed that in-ear comfort for true wireless earbuds is a key purchase criterion for 53% of consumers surveyed. Effective ANC performance is usually dependent on creating a tight seal once the earbud is placed into the ear which can cause discomfort and be difficult to achieve. The Adaptive ANC is designed to reduce the dependency on forming a tight seal so a user doesn’t need to push or twist the earbud into the ear. Variation in fit can also occur depending on user activity, for example as a user is running, walking, or even moving their head. Adaptive ANC is designed to dynamically adapt performance in real-time according to the tightness of fit and the level of leak-through no matter how or where the earbuds are being used.

The Adaptive ANC is designed to help make the user experience as seamless as possible from the moment a user takes the earbuds out of the box, with no need to conduct a fit test, self-calibration or to try out multiple sets of eartips. The technology is also designed to operate across virtually all modes and works concurrently as a user transitions from one mode to another. For example, the technology is designed to allow a user to switch from taking a call, to listening to music, to using a digital assistant to asking a question – all with no interruption to the ANC. Adaptive ANC is also designed to support automatic adjustment to environmental conditions, by ramping down the ANC strength for quiet spaces or conversely ramping up for noisier environments.

Adaptive ANC can be used as a Qualcomm Reference Design solution to help those OEMs who want to develop their product faster. For those developers and manufacturers who want to add further differentiation, an API is provided to customize the solution to provide a very unique Adaptive ANC experience. The technology also provides developers with freedom of choice of form factor, from fully occluded, semi-occluded and non-occluded earbuds (in-ear with tight seal, loose-fit with non-sealing channeling, and totally loose-fit).

Adaptive ANC is now available on Qualcomm's latest premium tier Bluetooth Audio System-on-Chip (SoC), QCC514x. Designed to meet the demands of a truly wireless sound experience, the QCC514x integrates support for Voice Assistants, premium wireless audio quality, and extended battery life, among other features, and now Adaptive ANC that further improves the overall true wireless sound experience.
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