In a press briefing held in San Diego, Qualcomm announced its next-generation system-on-a-chip (SoC) that will make smart speakers even smarter.
In a product category that’s all about doing more with less, faster, the Qualcomm QCS400 series specialize in better understanding voice commands through beam-forming and advanced algorithms, and could increase standby battery life in portable speakers by about 2,500%.
The SoC will be sold to audio manufacturers in four different versions – the Qualcomm QCS403, QCS404, QCS405 and QCS407 – that will then be used to power the next generation of speakers and soundbars.
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When asked how, exactly, audio processing would be improved, Qualcomm’s Director of Product Nishant Kumar Mittal told us that the SoC would be able to process some requests without connecting to the internet and could theoretically support multiple assistants on the same device.
For example, Mittal said, the tech could enable a Bose speaker to understand both Google Assistant commands as well as commands created by Bose.
While Mittal wouldn’t reveal any of the next-generation products that would use the updated SoC series, he specifically mentioned pending speakers, soundbars and AV receivers as well as mesh Wi-Fi routers and a few other IoT categories in our briefing.
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Admittedly, Qualcomm only uses its briefings to talk about its own future products, not those of the companies that buy components from them, and while there were some not-so-subtle hints as to which products will support its chips, Qualcomm didn’t want to give anything away.
What Mittal would say is that the QCS400 SoC will be distributed via a developer kit soon and that products featuring the design could be here as early as September or October of this year - which means the next-gen smart speaker of your dreams may only be a few months away.
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Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.