New iPod accessory maker to debut wireless products

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Next month, a new company will begin its foray into the $1 billion iPod accessory market with a wireless headphone kit for Apple Computer's iPod nano digital music players, AppleInsider has learned.



The headphone kit from Audition Products, which is reportedly based on "Liberty Link" technology developed by Aura Communication, is expected to offer quality wireless freedom for iPod nano users at a price point well below similar offerings that use Bluetooth wireless technology.



To date, tens of millions of dollars have reportedly been spent developing the Liberty Link wireless chipset that will be featured in the accessory from Audition. It uses magnetic induction to establish a digital radio link between an iPod nano base transmitter and the headphone. The technology is reportedly similar to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), but is capable of creating a communications bubble with a range of 4-5 feet that completely surrounds the user. This limited transmission range should directly translate into longer battery life and lower accessory costs, AppleInsider has been told.



Additionally, the Liberty Link frequency spectrum is "better utilized" than competitive technologies due to the tightly controlled communications bubble. Like Bluetooth, privacy is ensured by pairing each headphone and base with an automatically generated code. However, the audio quality of Liberty Link is said to outmatch Bluetooth in most situations, as it does not suffer from pops or fades like traditional RF signals.



Liberty Link compresses the audio stream using 4:1 ADPCM (Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation) before it is transmitted to the headphone. The stream is then decompressed in the headphone and broadcast to the listener. Some people who have experienced the pre-production Liberty Link systems state that they are offer "some of the best wireless experiences" so far for portable music.



Larger Images: Audition Wireless Transmitter; Audition Wireless Headphone



In pre-production tests, the wireless Liberty Link headsets "experienced almost no interference," one of these people said. The devices reportedly boast 10x better bit error rate performance than similar Bluetooth products, and will likely cost substantially less while also drawing less power. Retail pricing for the initial Audition wireless offering is expected to fall between $79 and $99, which will include the base transmitter, headphone and charger.



On the user end, functionality is quite simple. The iPod nano easily slips into the transmitter base, where the audio connection is made via the nano?s headphone jack. Both the headphone and the base are reportedly powered by rechargeable Lithium Ion Polymer cells that will offer approximately 10 hours of uninterrupted playback.



Liberty Link enabled devices, such as the Audition products, can also leverage a unique "sharing" feature, where a single transmitter can be configured to broadcast to several listeners who reside in an 8-foot diameter. Once the primary transmitter has been set to sharing mode, listeners wishing to join in on the audio stream will be able to hold their headset close to the base and press a link button -- a feature well suited to two runners wanting to share a single transmitter.



Rumored iPod nano "sled" prototype



According to industry contacts, additional Liberty Link products for Apple's iPod nano and the Sony PSP may be on the way from Aura and its partners like Audition Products. Until recently, there has been little to no market for wireless headphones because consumers have not found the listening experience to be worth the price.



Aura Communication?s Liberty Link technology hopes to push the envelope by offering new price points for "cutting the wire" on portable audio players like the iPod, AppleInsider has been told. Another yet-to-be-announced product that may pack the technology has been described as an "iPod nano sled" (pictured above). However, further details of this device are unknown.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    So it plugs into the headphone jack.

    Which means there's nothing iPod-specific about it, and certainly nothing Nano-specific about it, except for the form factor.



    So why don't they make a simple standalone unit that plugs into any headphone jack? It sounds like a great technology, it seems ridiculous they would spend all that money developing for one particular model of mp3 player when they don't need to. (It doesn't even connect using the iPod docking port.)



    I'll assume since this is just rumor and there's no actual product information that the specs in this article aren't finalized. Looking forward to hearing more.



    :d
  • Reply 2 of 47
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dak splunder

    So it plugs into the headphone jack.

    Which means there's nothing iPod-specific about it, and certainly nothing Nano-specific about it, except for the form factor.



    So why don't they make a simple standalone unit that plugs into any headphone jack? It sounds like a great technology, it seems ridiculous they would spend all that money developing for one particular model of mp3 player when they don't need to. (It doesn't even connect using the iPod docking port.)



    I'll assume since this is just rumor and there's no actual product information that the specs in this article aren't finalized. Looking forward to hearing more.



    :d




    From what I understand, it is not iPod specific. But it will show up in an iPod nano accessory first.



    Best,



    -K
  • Reply 3 of 47
    Wireless audio devices suck!



    Great however for picking up your neighbors portable phone calls, baby monitors, and cell phone conversations in crowded city though! LOL



    No thanks. I'll pass.
  • Reply 4 of 47
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BEatMaKeR

    Wireless audio devices suck!



    Great however for picking up your neighbors portable phone calls, baby monitors, and cell phone conversations in crowded city though! LOL



    No thanks. I'll pass.




    I take it you didn't actually read the post, then.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    akhomerunakhomerun Posts: 386member
    lol thanks for the ad, ai
  • Reply 6 of 47
    chagichagi Posts: 284member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dak splunder

    So it plugs into the headphone jack.

    Which means there's nothing iPod-specific about it, and certainly nothing Nano-specific about it, except for the form factor.



    So why don't they make a simple standalone unit that plugs into any headphone jack? It sounds like a great technology, it seems ridiculous they would spend all that money developing for one particular model of mp3 player when they don't need to. (It doesn't even connect using the iPod docking port.)



    I'll assume since this is just rumor and there's no actual product information that the specs in this article aren't finalized. Looking forward to hearing more.



    :d




    It's actually probably not all that bad of an idea to customize this product to particular iPod models, due to the sheer quantity of iPod units that have been sold.
  • Reply 7 of 47
    jimbo123jimbo123 Posts: 153member
    Does sound like an ad appleinsider, must be short of something to say!!
  • Reply 8 of 47
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,208member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kickaha

    I take it you didn't actually read the post, then.



    Why bother? It's more fun to make comments without actually knowing what was said. You have so much more leeway then.



    I would like to get one for my desktop. I've tried several different types of wireless units, but they were all poor.



    This could be made to work with anything.



    You would just need an audio cable with a male stereo minijack on one end and a female on the other (available from Radioshack). The female for this device, and the male to plug into your computer, or whatever.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    bentonbenton Posts: 161member
    Press release: 1-6-06

    http://www.auracomm.com/site/content...ses_1_6_05.asp



    "Available 2nd quarter '06...priced about $5 in OEM volume...demoed with Creative at CES"
  • Reply 10 of 47
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Bear in mind that "$5 OEM" price is for their proprietary chip.
  • Reply 11 of 47
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,208member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by addabox

    Bear in mind that "$5 OEM" price is for their proprietary chip.



    If not, you have to admit that's a great deal1
  • Reply 12 of 47
    cubertcubert Posts: 728member
    That transmitter is BUTT UGLY! But, that "Sled" thing looks very nice! When Audition gets their transmitter looking like the "Sled", I'm buying.
  • Reply 13 of 47
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    I wonder how much thickness the sled adds to the Nano-- hard to tell from the picture.



    I'm assuming that they're not getting everything, including batts, into that half inch of plastic on the bottom.
  • Reply 14 of 47
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    If not, you have to admit that's a great deal1



    Yeah, but you have to order in lots of a million!
  • Reply 15 of 47
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,208member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by addabox

    Yeah, but you have to order in lots of a million!



    We can chip in!
  • Reply 16 of 47
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    Near field magnetic transmission has a few drawbacks. However, this isn't exactly magnetic coupling, the way RFID is. With a weakly-driven loop antenna in the 13.56MHz range, there isn't much transformer-like behavior, and this product should be thought of more as an HF Radio tuned to work in the so-called fresnel field.



    1. At 13.56Mhz, It's extremely sensitive to ferromagnetic materials, and even metal in general. In other words, if your iPod or headphones are near a metal object, it might not work. Without divulging too much detail, I have spent a fair amount of time trying to get 13.56MHz RFID tags to work well in the presence of wrist-watches.



    2. comparatively high power requirements. The radiation efficiency of transformers (or loop antennas) is crap. It's plausible that a higher frequency, higher data rate technology operating on a dipole antenna will offer lower power consumption and greater data rates.



    3. It still creates far-field EMI.
  • Reply 17 of 47
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel



    At 13.56Mhz, It's extremely sensitive to ferromagnetic materials, and even metal in general. In other words, if your iPod or headphones are near a metal object, it might not work.....



    Son of a bitch, once again the plate in my head constrains my choices!



    Damn you, plate in my head!
  • Reply 18 of 47
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,208member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    Near field magnetic transmission has a few drawbacks. However, this isn't exactly magnetic coupling, the way RFID is. With a weakly-driven loop antenna in the 13.56MHz range, there isn't much transformer-like behavior, and this product should be thought of more as an HF Radio tuned to work in the so-called fresnel field.



    1. At 13.56Mhz, It's extremely sensitive to ferromagnetic materials, and even metal in general. In other words, if your iPod or headphones are near a metal object, it might not work. Without divulging too much detail, I have spent a fair amount of time trying to get 13.56MHz RFID tags to work well in the presence of wrist-watches.



    2. comparatively high power requirements. The radiation efficiency of transformers (or loop antennas) is crap. It's plausible that a higher frequency, higher data rate technology operating on a dipole antenna will offer lower power consumption and greater data rates.



    3. It still creates far-field EMI.




    That's very interesting. I'm not familiar with fresnel fields in this area. Are you talking about linear radiators? Or are you considering the loop to be a array element pattern? The design of that is critical, but good design should maximize that efficiency. But the math can get wonky.



    As the back plate of most iPods is some alloy of SS, that itself could cause a problem. But I don't know which alloy it is, 200, 300, or 400 series. That could make a big difference.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by melgross

    That's very interesting. I'm not familiar with fresnel fields in this area. Are you talking about linear radiators? Or are you considering the loop to be a array element pattern? The design of that is critical, but good design should maximize that efficiency. But the math can get wonky.



    As the back plate of most iPods is some alloy of SS, that itself could cause a problem. But I don't know which alloy it is, 200, 300, or 400 series. That could make a big difference.




    Strap on the tanks, we're going deep.



    Before I get too far into loop antenna application concepts, I will quickly mention that the antenna can be tuned with the iPod nearby, but in these cases it's very tough to get optimal impedance, and the matching network soaks up some power itself. This just means less antenna efficiency.



    Anyway, a loop antenna is not like a dipole. 13.56MHz has a wavelength of about 22.5 meters, so making a 1/2 wave or even 1/4 wave dipole is out of the question. Instead, you can build a resonant circuit from some capacitors and a wire loop that acts electrically as an inductor. The perimeter of the loop, the area of the loop, and the geometry of the loop determine the characteristics of the antenna. It's a really simple idea, but unless you're using a circular, single turn loop whose perimeter is less than 1/10 wavelength, loop antennas are very complicated to simulate (and design) without some pretty serious numerical methods. Given the size of the units, I'm guessing the antennas used in this product fall into the simple category.



    Moving on, the two loop antennas in the system act similarly as two coils in a transformer. The further the coils are removed from each other, the less the system is like a transformer, and the more it is like a regular, far-field antenna. Depending on the sizes of the two loops and the size difference of the two loops, the radius of the near-field regime may be different. In the loop antenna system, this said regime can be noticed by the coupling co-deviation the two coils cause on each other, which tends to shift the resonant frequency and attenuate transmission. (This is why RFID systems are designed to distribute their message bandwidth in a very particular way). At a certain distance, it mostly go away, but until there's at LEAST one wavelength separation, the system behavior isn't quite like a nice, far-field system. The intermediate range is sometimes known as the fresnel field.
  • Reply 20 of 47
    1:4 compressiion??



    and at 128kbps being in the 1:10 compression range.... wont this sound like CRAP?
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