With all the speculation over the Internet of Things (IoT), we wanted to have a look at some networked devices which are already pushing the boundaries of transfer speed, automatic discovery and global data transfer – network audio devices.
Since the audio speaker was invented in 1874 (by Ernst W. Siemens, although Alexander G Bell was the first to patent audio transmission in 1876) the electronic transmission of sound has worked in the same basic way – low voltage electrical fluctuation carried along a wire. That changed in the last few decades, when in the 80’s analogue-to-digital convertors took over audio recording. They work by recording analogue sound as digital data and transmitting the data to a computer. Any data transfer method with sufficient bandwidth can connect converters of a sound card to a computer – USB, firewire, even (very recently) wifi.
But the breakthrough which ties audio technology to the IoT explosion is network audio – transferring many channels of audio over a network connection, typically a gigabit connection. Audio recording, especially at high quality, creates relatively large files – around 100mb per-minute per-channel. Audio is often “multi tracked” to record several sources at once. Stereo is 2 channels multi tracked together, but an Orchestral recording or broadcast transmission can use 64 or 128 channels simultaneously, sometimes more. This is where network audio comes into its own, with upto 2000 channels of audio able to be transmitted simultaneously over a gigabit network.
(image – Yamaha pro audio diagram of a network audio system)
Another thing which sets audio transmission apart from many other computing tasks is the need for real-time transmission. Even these huge amounts of data must be transmitted with low latency (delay between input and output), low enough to provide lip-sync capability between audio and video, or for broadcast to appear live on screen. Its generally agreed that latency over 80ms is unusable for sync with audio, and latency of less than 5ms is common. In fact, the latest network audio devices can be clocked at pico-second latency.
Lets have a look at some of the companies who are creating networked audio devices :
Audinate. Creators of the Dante protocol, which is rapidly becoming the most common network audio system used by manufacturers. Audinate supply Dante expansion cards to many leading recording and broadcast equipment manufacturers, including Yamaha, Soundcraft and Focusrite. They also created a rather cool “virtual soundcard” which is capable of transmitting dozens of audio channels between systems with no hardware necessary.
Dante Via creates a flexible software audio bridge for your computer to connect with local USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt and analog audio interfaces, transforming them into networked devices. When Via is launched we are expecting some very forward thinking tech which has implications for device discovery and file transfer / streaming.
Focusrite. Focusrite have long been a name associated with audio-excellence. They have created a Dante-specific sound card range called Rednet. Rednet has been adopted by a diverse range of clients such as Fifa world cup 2014 and rock band band The Killers. These lightweight, dual redundant systems are starting to look more akin to server technology than music industry. Except they look cooler!
Following on from yesterdays post regarding tech trends in 2015, we wanted to see how much these trends would actually be worth. Internet-Of-Things and Wearables are the big buzzwords of the moment, but how big are they compared to todays giant tech products?
Predictions about the value of IoT vary between $50billion dollars for the smart home market and $2.7 TRILLION dollars. See the links below for details of these predictions. But what is realistic and how does it compare to tablet and smartphone sales, for example? We’ve crunched some numbers and made a chart:
The saying goes that by the time you see a bandwagon, its too late to get on it. But what will be next years bandwagons? We can’t say for sure, but here is a list of exciting technology which will make 2015 more fun!
Object storage is the concept of storing files in the same way that you store data in a database. Rather than a file browser, the system can store a file anywhere and retrieve it by finding its ID and looking up its location. This will be essential for the next generation of cloud storage systems. Its worth money because it reduces admin staff massively, saves time and uses storage efficiently. For a more in depth explaination read this: http://t.co/4RY7iVGLl6
Cloud operating systems
These have been around for a while, not exactly the next big thing, but more an old idea done in a new way. Thinking about software and applications as cloud based rather than installs on local machines is clearly the way forward. Here are some examples you can use for free : http://t.co/iiKSSWthmH
The Internet of Things is going to be a HUGE step forward for computing. If you haven’t already read about it, its the concept of networking everyday objects such a shoes, toothbrushes, plant pots, heating, oven etc… So these things can report data and be controlled remotely. Sounds like a joke right!? Well some major analysts claim its going to be worth more money over the next 3 years than tablets, phones, cloud storage and wearable devices COMBINED! Here is IDC’s prediction : http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS24138513
Wearable devices (last years biggest bandwagon)
70% of ALL funding raised by companies last year was invested into wearable technology! Too late to jump on this bandwagon, Google, Android and Apple are all over it, but worth considering for any application that is written from now on – how will it work on wearable?
Here is Forbes take on Wearable tech for business: http://www.forbes.com/sites/salesforce/2014/09/07/wearable-tech-business/
Wireless charging has been in development for some time, but we are yet to see it implemented in most devices. The jury is still out on the exact wireless power tech which will emerge as the “industry standard”, but it basically works by inducing an electric current from one device to another via magnetic field. If you want to go back to basics and understand the technology, read this article : http://www.wired.com/2014/09/the-physics-of-wireless-charging/
We could go on, but before we start talking about hoverboards and that flying car we’ve been promised every year for the last two decades, lets just hope all the above gets perfected next year!