Fully (off)loaded – giving smart TVs the voice power they deserve

Smart home technology is becoming less of a nice to have and more of a necessity in our everyday lives. Whether it’s an Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, Hive heating controls or a smart TV, the chances are that most homes will boast some kind of smart feature.

Either as a cause or result of this, public demand and expectation for these high-end products, with a more natural style of interaction, are increasing, and people want performance and value in equal measure. Yet, the global chip shortage and market issues caused by the pandemic are resulting in supply chain challenges, longer lead times and increased costs for developers.

This means that innovation often has to be sacrificed by manufacturers, as they simply don’t have the time, resources or funds to bring cutting edge smart home technology to market.

Offloading the problem

The technology required for smart home devices is diverse and complicated, often resulting in a complex System on Chip (SoC) to deliver the required functionality and intelligence. This, in turn, can lead to further challenges around design, development lead times and supply.

So what’s the answer? At XMOS, we are committed to developing solutions which help to reduce costs and delivery times, without ever compromising on performance. Our voice processing solutions, such as the xcore-voice reference design, offer an ideal balance between cost efficiency and high performance, by ‘offloading’ the voice processing functionality from the SoC.

While the SoC continues to deliver functionality across all other areas, voice processing is handled entirely by the XMOS device. This enables true low-power standby, reducing both the cost of operations and the environmental impact that would be caused by running voice functionality through the SoC.

By offloading voice processing in this way, super-expensive chips loaded with high-end design and complex functionality are not needed, instead making way for flexible, scalable solutions which can be customised by engineers and designers for their own products.

Seasoned software developers also understand the challenges of integrating a new complex software capability into an already complicated software stack. This is even more demanding for applications such as voice, where timing is critical. Offloading in this case adds huge maintenance and time to market advantage

Giving smart TVs a smart voice

The xcore-voice reference design works in tandem with the superior AI capabilities and powerful processing provided by our xcore®.ai device, allowing designers to easily incorporate keyword, event detection or advanced local dictionary support to create complete voice interface solutions.

Another benefit of voice processing operating away from the SoC is the ability to build in high performance features – without the need to redesign and manufacture a whole new SoC device. Taking smart TVs as an example, the far-field XMOS solution delivers low latency, hands-free voice controls and the ability to process voice commands clearly against real world conditions such as background noise or noise playing from the product itself, such as music or dialogue from the TV unit.

Providing a competitive edge

Smart TV’s have a great opportunity to be the interactive smart hub of the home. It is innovative design and functionality like this which will allow manufacturers to stand apart in an increasingly competitive market.

At XMOS, we are continually evolving to assist manufacturers in their ability to differentiate. Starting with voice today and extending to ‘always aware’ solutions that include other sensors, such as imaging.

We are committed to providing designers with all the tools and opportunities they need to deliver the solutions and performance levels that their customers are increasingly demanding, whilst also helping them meet their targets around sustainability, cost efficiency and delivery times.

If you would like to discuss our xcore-voice reference design further and discover how we can enable you to offload your voice processing, please contact our sales team using the linked button below.

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