Gene FrantzTI Principal Fellow, Futurist and Business Development Manager, DSP
I’ve been around the world of digital signal processing for many years. My first voice product used a fixed function signal processor. Then, when the industry was introduced to the real benefits of signal processing, voice was a target market opportunity, but audio was not. This was the result of several issues: data word size and raw performance. We’ve come a long way with both of these needs over the history of the theory and devices we know as DSP. We find that everything from MP3 players to home theaters to professional audio has moved to digital. But, as we have solved the data word size (including memory size) and performance for specific applications, we have realized that there are new attributes that are taking the forefront of requirements. Simply put, these new attributes are:• Lower system cost• Lower power dissipation• Easier to design in to the systemBut before I take these three new attributes to the next step, let me make sure you aren’t reading into this discussion that I no longer think data word size or performance are important. The point is that we as an industry have relatively well established the acceptable data word size for audio and voice, and for the most part, performance is no longer the big issue — it just needs to be good enough. The new attributes map to features such as pocket sized, long battery life, affordable, and easy to integrate into the larger system (audio and voice are now features of a system rather than the system itself).So let’s look at each of these new attributes. What we have found by lowering the power dissipation of signal processing is the expansion of new uses for the technology. With Cloud Computing, we will someday find all of our things are hooked into the “Cloud.” I told an audience recently that even my Pet Rock would be tied into the “Cloud.” I call this “The Clutter around the Cloud.” As ridiculous as this may sound, the idea of “smart bricks” (another story I may tell later) changes the mindset of our creativity.Just as lower power dissipation enables portability, lower system cost enables affordability. We should never ignore the cost of something in our value proposition. Lower system cost can show up as higher profit or greater product sales, while at the same time make it more affordable to a larger segment of the population — more clutter.Finally, we cannot forget ease of system integration. This ease shows up as faster time to market, creating a broader appeal (easily adaptable to smaller groups of individuals) and better quality. Further, if the signal processor is programmable, these concepts become even more pervasive. The idea of downloadable upgrades, new features, and personalization all add to the value of the ease of use attribute.At this point in my discussion I just have to talk a bit about our focus at Texas Instruments to make these three new attributes available while not sacrificing those attributes that got us into the game so many years ago. Hopefully you have now anticipated my suggestion that the TMS320C5000 ultra-low-power DSP platform is about to have a growth spurt. When added to the success of the ultra-low-power MSP platform, it is hard to ignore the bright future of innovation is personal products that will connect us to the cloud and give us new capabilities that we couldn’t even dream about until now. These are exciting days we are experiencing. Go out and innovate!Oh, one last question: Do you see any other technological advances in the coming years that will yet again revolutionize consumer audio and voice devices? (I’ll give you a hint at one — will we ever have voice to voice language translation available in my pocket?)
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