New TCL TVs can hear your every word — even in noisy rooms

Synaptics’ Audiosmart far-field voice (FFV) tech takes voice control to new levels with TCL’s new line of televisions, which have Alexa built-in and were introduced at IFA 2018 in Berlin.

The big deal about FFV is it enhances voice communication and automatic speech recognition in the real world. Background and foreground sounds and sudden and intrusive noises can confuse or block voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Synaptics’ Audiosmart FFV digital signal processors (DSPs) use proprietary algorithms to sort out sound signals, improving the technology.

Voice-processing tech in DSPs, in general, is biased toward recognizing speech over doorbells, HVAC fans, music, and traffic sounds. If Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and a host of other companies are correct in their belief that voice will soon be the dominant command, control, and communications interface, merely differentiating voice from the sound of a garbage disposal isn’t enough.

For example, convenience and security factors both demand finer than chainsaw-level voice differentiation. We already want our voice-connected electronics to know when we are addressing them and we’ll increasingly rely on our devices and systems to recognize who we are, as well as what we say.

Distinctive features include Voice Barge-in, Smart Source Pickup, and Energy Efficient Voice Functionality.

With Voice Barge-in, a TCL television with built-in Alexa will recognize the “wake word,” so you can say “Alexa” using your natural voice even when an action flick with loud dialogue is playing. Audiosmart FFV uses full-duplex acoustic echo cancellation to sort out the signals and their sources to pick up the wake word. You won’t have to outshout your TV, turn down the volume, or press a button to get your smart TV voice assistant’s attention.

With Smart Source Pickup, a Synaptics FFV-equipped TCL not only cancels sounds from other directions but also filters other sounds coming from your direction. If, for example, you and a room full of people are watching a football game and a running dishwasher is directly behind you, the Smart Source Pickup will still detect your voice.

Synaptics’ Energy Efficient Voice Functionality employs low-power DSPs so the TCL televisions can still meet all energy requirements for standby mode while allowing you to use your natural voice to turn the TV on and off.

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