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Apple iPhone 4S A5 chip incorporates Audience EarSmart noise reduction tech for Siri

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Apple's A5 System on a Chip incorporates dedicated noise reduction circuitry by Audience, Inc., which optimizes the performance of Siri voice recognition on iPhone 4S.

When Audience filed for an initial public offering last month, it revealed that "commencing in the three months ended December 31, 2011, Apple has integrated our processor IP in certain of its mobile phones," in a S1 filing outlining the startup's potential risk factors for investors.

The firm also made reference to its own "first generation of processors, the A1026, the A1028 and a custom processor for Apple," and stated, "we began shipping our first generation of voice processors in 2008, our second generation of earSmart voice and audio processors in 2011 and as of December 31, 2011, had sold over 135 million processors worldwide."

Audience explains that by "imitating the complex processing that occurs from the inner ear to the brain, Audience's intelligent earSmart technology distinguishes and interprets sounds as people do naturally. In a mobile device, the earSmart processor effectively isolates and enhances the primary voice signal and suppresses surrounding noise--for both transmit and receive--to enable clear conversations nearly anywhere."

The company notes that "far-field uses are more vulnerable to background noise interference and poor voice quality given the speaker's distance from the device," an issue that has previously been noted in regard to rumors that Apple might deploy TV systems incorporating Siri voice technology; speaking to a TV across the room would be far more difficult to correctly recognize compared to Siri on iPhone 4S.




A4 paired with Audience noise reduction chip in iPhone 4

Last spring, iFixit noted the discovery of Audience's A1026 chip in the Google branded Nexus One, and realized that Apple's iPhone 4 from the previous summer had also incorporated the same chip (as shown below), which for both phones leveraged a second mic to "cut out ambient noise and improve sound quality."




Apple kept the chip a secret by "white labeling" the component, making it difficult for iFixit to identify until Chipworks decamped the part and found Audience's name printed on the chips die marking (depicted below). The investigators noted that the "package has an embedded digital signal processor with accompanying analog front ends."




As a result of incorporating the chip, the website reported that "the iPhone’s audio cancellation capabilities are very impressive, outperforming every non-Audience powered cell phone we’ve tried."

A5 incorporates second generation Audience tech in iPhone 4S

Audience's S1 filling also noted, "We sell our products to Foxconn International Holdings, Ltd. and its affiliates (collectively, Foxconn) and Protek (Shanghai) Limited and its affiliates (collectively, Protek), each a major CM that produces mobile phones containing our processors almost exclusively for Apple."

After indicating that the second generation of its "earSmart" technology was released in 2011, Audience revealed that "in 2010 and the nine months ended September 30, 2011, Foxconn and Protek collectively accounted for 82% and 79% of our total revenue, respectively. We entered into an agreement with Apple in 2008, which governs our relationship and under which we sell custom processors to Foxconn and Protek and license our processor IP to this OEM for other mobile phones."

In a report by Stephen Shankland writing for CNET, Linley Group analyst Linley Gwennap is cited as pointing out "to reduce system cost and eliminate the extra package required for the Audience chip, Apple cut a deal to integrate the noise-reduction technology directly into its A5 processor, which appears in the iPhone 4S."

Gwennap added, "this situation helps explain why Apple does not offer Siri as a software upgrade on the iPhone 4. Although the older phone includes an Audience chip, the company has since improved its technology to handle 'far-field speech,' which means holding the device at arm's length rather than directly in front of the mouth"




Audience notes the use of its earSmart technology in a variety of phones and tablets ranging from Android to Windows Phone 7 models. In a graphic within its S1 filing, the company portrays a Siri-like service running on a non-Apple device. It appears to be contractually prevented from advertising its relationship with Apple.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 22
Decamped? Don't you mean decapsulated?
post #3 of 22
Why is a feature that is available on other competitors a feature article on AI?

Should you guys be focusing on things that are NOT available on other phones?

Slow news day?

"Like I said before, share price will dip into the $400."  - 11/21/12 by Galbi

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"Like I said before, share price will dip into the $400."  - 11/21/12 by Galbi

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post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post

Why is a feature that is available on other competitors a feature article on AI?

Should you guys be focusing on things that are NOT available on other phones?

Slow news day?

Read the article.

The technology is used on multiple platforms. Apple has a deal to integrate it into their processor. Presumably, that's the difference, at least at the moment.
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post

Why is a feature that is available on other competitors a feature article on AI?

Well for one thing the tech appears to be key to Apples success with Siri. Beyond that all phones use similar technology, sometimes exactly the same chips as iPhone, that does not invalidate discussing them.
Quote:
Should you guys be focusing on things that are NOT available on other phones?

You are kidding right? This is directly related to understanding the inner workings of the iPhone.
Quote:
Slow news day?

Well it is a Sunday,Superbowl Sunday at that.
post #6 of 22
I'm not sure the article was real clear about that integration, it seems yeti be an assumption. I could be wrong here but the reasoning just doesn't seem sound. For example why no Siri on A5 iPads? I'm just not sure if we have an analyst talking out of his back side or somebody with deeper knowledge speaking.

By the way, just imagine what Apple will be able to integrate into A6 given a process shrink to 22nm. Makes you wonder how much IP they will license for that chip. Interesting times ahead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Read the article.

The technology is used on multiple platforms. Apple has a deal to integrate it into their processor. Presumably, that's the difference, at least at the moment.
post #7 of 22
fwiw: a cochlea has nothing to do with the signal processing, other than being part of the "Fast Cochlea Transform" trademark name.
post #8 of 22
Personally I'm just encouraged to see Apple continue to focus on the details of improving their products.
post #9 of 22
Myself, coming from the tube and discrete transistor era, I can only imagine that the Audience EarSmart noise reduction circuitry would have filled a rack with electronics, and not worked nearly as well due to the lower clock speeds at the time. I am often blown away by the advances of the last 50 years
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #10 of 22
This would be a better IPO than Facebook. No hype to inflate the real value.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
[Audience] appears to be contractually prevented from advertising its relationship with Apple.

Correct. Apple keeps its cards very close to its chest. Besides, anyone advertising such a relationship gets a free boost to their brand recognition, and you don't get to use the Apple brand to boost your own without Apple's blessing. It is standard procedure for most Fortune 500 companies.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #12 of 22
This is all very impressive and all, but it makes it seem like it isn't possible for Siri to work on an iPhone 4. This simply isn't the case. We know this because Siri was available as an App before the iPhone 4S shipped.

Instead, Siri likely isn't working on the iPhone 4 has more to do with 1) Apple not wanting all the iPhone 4 users overwhelming its servers for what is supposed to be a beta product, and 2) wanting to sell the new model. I know several people who Siri was the main motivator for the upgrade.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

This is all very impressive and all, but it makes it seem like it isn't possible for Siri to work on an iPhone 4.

I don't think it advertises that at all. I believe this simply shows why Apple didn't include it at launch (despite it's physical possibility) and gives them a valid reason for them to never include it (my personal belief).

Quote:
Instead, Siri likely isn't working on the iPhone 4 has more to do with 1) Apple not wanting all the iPhone 4 users overwhelming its servers for what is supposed to be a beta product, and 2) wanting to sell the new model.

I prefer to think the first is the primary reason, but it's quite obvious the second is just as true.

While I believe they'll never include it (nor on the 1st gen iPad), don't misconstrue that as a wish for them not to. I'd absolutely love Siri on older devices, particularly since I own a 1st gen iPad.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm not sure the article was real clear about that integration, it seems yeti be an assumption. I could be wrong here but the reasoning just doesn't seem sound. For example why no Siri on A5 iPads? I'm just not sure if we have an analyst talking out of his back side or somebody with deeper knowledge speaking.

By the way, just imagine what Apple will be able to integrate into A6 given a process shrink to 22nm. Makes you wonder how much IP they will license for that chip. Interesting times ahead.

iPad didn't immediately get iOS 4 in 2010, but that doesn't mean it couldn't eventually run it once the porting work was completed.

iPod touch and Macs didn't immediately get FaceTime, but that doesn't mean they couldn't eventually run it once the porting work was completed.

Can you possibly imagine that some software work would be required to deliver a useful version of Siri on iPad 2? And can you conceptualize that Apple has priorities?
post #15 of 22
Hacked versions of Siri are already running on iPhone 4's, and it's not a complicated process to achieve either, so we know there is no hardware-specific reason why it wasn't included on that handset as well as the 4S. It's pretty clear now why Apple chose to keep it exclusive to their latest model, and it's basically what most of us suspected all along.

It's also fairly evident now that the fact Siri has no freakin' clue what I'm saying 9 times out of ten is due to faulty software, and not a problem with the hardware. I'm glad it's classified as a Beta app, because it's essentially worthless.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

It's also fairly evident now that the fact Siri has no freakin' clue what I'm saying 9 times out of ten is due to faulty software, and not a problem with the hardware. I'm glad it's classified as a Beta app, because it's essentially worthless.

You keep saying that. But you're basically the only one saying it. I've even given the store demos of Siri some of the accents that I can do (Irish, stereotypical West Coast, stereotypical South, Russian) as well as my falsetto voice and some impersonations and it gets it every time.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
Reply

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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post #17 of 22
I guess that means no SIRI for iPad 2 with future iOS updates.. that's bad..
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

I am often blown away by the advances of the last 50 years

Hey grampa, I'm just blown away by advances of the last 35 years! Although, without
looking at the patents, I'm only vaguely aware of what a "fast cochlear transform" is,
I was only doing Fast Fourier Transforms on Unix version 5 in grad school (sans floating point
math) for audio compression. Then came the DCT, then .mp3, thence H264,
but audio transforms were not rageous in firmware for awhile ...
My wife was trying to do isolated word-constrained voice recognition for helicopter
environments at NASA, oh, say, only 30 years ago, but that milieu
(cursing, coughing-smoking pilots) was a bitch to work around.
Neat gimmick this Audience thing.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

You keep saying that. But you're basically the only one saying it. I've even given the store demos of Siri some of the accents that I can do (Irish, stereotypical West Coast, stereotypical South, Russian) as well as my falsetto voice and some impersonations and it gets it every time.

Like, wow, hecka-dude -- what's a stereotypical West Coast accent?

I tried Siri using my Julia Child falsetto voice:

FCPX Ripple, Roll. Slip and Slide


Julia Child: "What's My Name?"

Siri: "You're 'Oh Omnipotent one.' That's what you told me, anyway"

Siri Nailed it!



Then there's this via Gruber:

Apple Scotland: Having a wee bit of trouble

"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
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"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
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post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

Hacked versions of Siri are already running on iPhone 4's, and it's not a complicated process to achieve either, so we know there is no hardware-specific reason why it wasn't included on that handset as well as the 4S. It's pretty clear now why Apple chose to keep it exclusive to their latest model, and it's basically what most of us suspected all along.

It's also fairly evident now that the fact Siri has no freakin' clue what I'm saying 9 times out of ten is due to faulty software, and not a problem with the hardware. I'm glad it's classified as a Beta app, because it's essentially worthless.

No Siri for you!
"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
Reply
"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
Reply
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Like, wow, hecka-dude -- what's a stereotypical West Coast accent?

Oh, 'ch'know, bra, iss jus' droppin' the enssa words, slurrin' 'em together and talkin' at the back 'a your mouth, ya' know?

Quote:
I tried Siri using my Julia Child falsetto voice:

Great stuff.


That's a BEAUTIFUL accent! I'm going to use that as a reference for teaching myself a better Scottish accent now.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
Reply

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
Reply
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Oh, 'ch'know, bra, iss jus' droppin' the enssa words, slurrin' 'em together and talkin' at the back 'a your mouth, ya' know?



Great stuff.



That's a BEAUTIFUL accent! I'm going to use that as a reference for teaching myself a better Scottish accent now.

SlÃ*inte mhath!
"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
Reply
"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
Reply
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