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Smart speakers are about to get an IQ bump thanks to new Qualcomm chips

Sure, the world of smart speaker chips isn’t as argument-inducing (or as exciting to the general public) as video game graphics cards or even smartphone processors, but it has a massive impact on the way you interact with and enjoy our favorite music, podcasts, and various other smart devices in your home.

Without the right chip, asking Siri, Alexa, or Google to tell you the weather or play your favorite artist would be a futile task. Well, smart speakers, soundbars, and more are about to get a massive IQ bump thanks to a new chipset developed by Qualcomm called the QCS400.

Designed from the ground up, the new chipset includes faster voice processing with better background noise filters, lower power consumption, and built-in support for object-based audio technology like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

That means that any speakers with the new chip installed will be able to integrate more easily into modern home theater systems and that smart soundbars are about to get a lot easier to integrate into various multiroom smart speaker setups.

That, plus faster audio processing onboard means that streaming music will be easier and more reliable than ever, and should enable manufacturers to focus even more on improving audio quality in smaller devices using advanced digital signal processing.

“These new [systems on a chip] raise the bar on both feature integration and power performance for smart audio compared to our previous technology. This will help manufacturers to more easily overcome significant technical challenges and build smarter speakers and assistants with more intuitive voice UI, connected user experiences and exceptional sound quality,” Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager of connectivity at Qualcomm, said in a statement. “The next generation of smart audio products must be robust, highly interoperable, feature-rich, and smart, yet extremely power efficient.”

So far, interest seems hot: Qualcomm representatives we spoke to about the new chipset stated that while they couldn’t make any official announcements, they have been in contact with several large technology companies about using the new chipsets, estimating that the first speakers and soundbars to use the technology could hit the market by the end of 2019.

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Parker Hall
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Parker Hall is a writer and musician from Portland, OR. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin…
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