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DTS hints at big expansion of Play-fi ahead of CES 2014

“Play-fi is coming into prime time.” That’s according to DTS CEO Jon Kirchner, who spoke with us last Friday ahead of today’s CES 2014 announcement. DTS today unveiled the expansion of the company’s prized wireless audio protocol into speakers from seven original design manufacturers (ODM), as well as hinting at plans to embed Play-fi into devices from two major audio brands, the names of which will be revealed this week at the show.

For those unfamiliar, Play-fi is an open protocol that is capable of streaming lossless audio files from PCs and mobile devices. The system utilizes Wi-Fi, and is capable of transmitting audio to multiple speakers without lag. Unlike similar  wireless ecosystems such as Sonos speakers or Samsung’s M7, which are proprietary, Play-fi’s open design allows it to be incorporated into speakers from a wide array of manufacturers. The system works with PCs, Android and iOS devices, and Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

Today’s announcement reveals a bevy of audio manufacturers who are building, or have built reference designs which support Play-fi, including Eastech Electronics Inc., LiteOn Technology Corporation, Meiloon Industrial Co.Ltd., Solidex Audio Corporation, Tymphany Corporation, Wistron Corporation, and Zylux Acoustic Corp. With wider distribution, DTS hopes Play-fi will go from what Kirchner calls the “gee, that’s interesting technology camp,” to a major audio platform, perhaps eventually closing in on larger protocols like Apple’s Airplay.

In addition to the new manufacturers, Play-fi has added support of Sirius XM, with more content providers to be revealed at the show. While Kirchner was mum on any of the other new content providers that will be showing up in the Play-fi family, he did say the system will be “robustly supported”, which we imagine means the inclusion of some of the usual suspects such as Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, etc. Another of DTS’s goals for the protocol is to be embedded in mobile phones directly from the manufacturer. To that end, the company has started with a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer called Vivo.

We’ll have to wait and see which big names will be sporting the Play-fi logo for demos as they are revealed this week at CES, so stay with us to find out the rest of the story.