Tempow’s new Bluetooth software ties your smart home together

tempow tap bluetooth protocol team
Tempow CEO, Vincent Nallatamby, and Vice President of Engineering, Julien Goupy

We first met French startup Tempow last year when it unveiled exciting new software capable of syncing together multiple Bluetooth devices. It allows you to chain together old Bluetooth speakers and turn them into a perfectly synced multi-room audio system like Sonos, or listen in to the same music track with a couple of friends simultaneously on separate Bluetooth headphones.

It was a key feature of the Moto X4, and it generated a fair bit of buzz, but Tempow has not been resting on its laurels. We sat down with CEO, Vincent Nallatamby, and Vice President of Engineering, Julien Goupy, at IFA 2018 to learn about the new line of Tempow Audio Profile applications, called “TAP Smart.”

“We want to make a multi-room audio system that’s really accessible,” Nallatamby said. “Bluetooth is the best wireless solution for this in terms of cost and power, and our mission as a company is optimizing the Bluetooth software and developing extra features to benefit users.”

“We want to make a multi-room audio system that’s really accessible.”

The clever software Tempow has developed combines Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, enabling you to stream audio from a single source to multiple Bluetooth speakers and control your music with voice commands through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

There are many different ways this software could benefit people, but Tempow showed us a few examples. With Tempow’s software onboard a smart speaker, you can tell Alexa to play a tune and have it come from the smart speaker as usual, but also any connected Bluetooth speakers. The audio is synced, just as it is with a Sonos system or another multi-room audio setup, and you can connect to up to six devices at once.

You can also use the software to create a surround sound system for your smart TV, using a couple of Bluetooth speakers at either side of the room for true stereo sound and perhaps a bigger Bluetooth speaker as a subwoofer.

Because it works with any Bluetooth device, you and your partner can use it to listen to the TV with Bluetooth headphones late at night when you don’t want to disturb anyone, or have your kids wear headphones so you don’t have to listen to Spongebob.

Another clever idea shown off in the demo was to play different languages to different headsets or speakers. Imagine your parents only speak English, but you want to watch the film in its native French – Tempow’s software can keep everyone happy by streaming both soundtracks to separate devices simultaneously. Interestingly, this same idea can be used to tailor sound profiles for different people, which could prove valuable for the hearing impaired.

Perhaps the most intriguing idea here is the potential to turn the Bluetooth speakers dotted around your home into a kind of mesh network that would enable Alexa or Google Assistant to work from anywhere. Bluetooth speakers tend to have microphones built-in already and Tempow is working on relaying voice commands to a central smart speaker.

“The assistant should be invisible, but everywhere, behind any device.”

“It doesn’t make sense to have Alexa represented by a single device if you think about it,” Nallatamby said. “The assistant should be invisible, but everywhere, behind any device, so you can talk and have it answer wherever you are, and the cheapest way to do that right now is with Bluetooth speakers.”

In terms of hardware cost and power usage, Bluetooth is cheaper than Wi-Fi and Tempow is proving that it’s ripe for a shot of innovation.

Before you get too excited, it’s important to note that Tempow is working on securing more partners to get its clever software licensed and out there. At the moment, there’s just one device that can take advantage of the new functionality and it’s a bizarre household robot that reminds of us DJ Roomba from Parks and Rec – the makeshift robot vacuum with the iPod dock on its back — though, it’s actually a bit more sophisticated than that.

keecker

Keecker is a voice-enabled multimedia robot that runs on Android TV with access to the Google Play Store and Google Assistant, and also functions as an Amazon Alexa smart speaker. This peculiar, mobile, robot, shaped like a large egg, can project video onto the walls or ceiling and respond to voice commands. It’s the perfect demo device for Tempow because it combines smart speaker, smart TV, and Bluetooth functionality.

While Keecker offers the right combination of tech to show off the potential of TAP Smart, Tempow has much grander ambitions, looking to license its software to a big-name manufacturer like Samsung that could push it out into a wide range of products. Amazon or Google could also be a good fit, as by embedding the software into a single smart speaker they could extend the presence of their voice assistants throughout the home to existing Bluetooth devices, without having to sell more dots or speakers.

While Keecker offers the right combination of tech to show off the potential of TAP Smart, Tempow has much grander ambitions.

A part of the beauty of Tempow’s approach is the fact that it’s completely hardware agnostic. It will work with your current range of Bluetooth speakers, smart speakers, and any smart TV with Bluetooth support. Because TAP Smart works by modifying the core Bluetooth protocols with a software-only solution, it will continue to work seamlessly across every generation of Bluetooth speakers, regardless of the chipset.

It’s refreshing to meet smart people focused on squeezing more value out of old tech like Bluetooth and hardware that many of us have lying around in our homes – who doesn’t have a Bluetooth speaker or two? While sophisticated multi-room audio or surround sound systems may be prohibitively expensive for many, Tempow’s software smarts could enable you to create your own at a fraction of the price.

The trick is getting it out there, but based on what we’ve seen so far and how well it works, it’s only a matter of time before a major player licenses the software.

Smart Home

Amazon reportedly will introduce an Alexa-enabled microwave, amp, and more

Amazon's Fall 2018 Alexa device rollout is about to begin, sources say. Look for an Alexa microwave, an amplifier, receiver, and subwoofer, and an Alexa voice-responsive device for your car. Amazon is maximizing its voice-command presence.
Home Theater

Don't wake the baby! How to connect headphones to a TV

Do you need to connect a pair of headphones to your TV? Our handy guide will show you how to hook up your headphones in a variety of ways, whether you're using wired headphones, wireless headphones, or gaming headsets.
Smart Home

A whole new world: New Google Home games let kids play as Disney characters

The Google Home smart speaker is now is capable of playing a variety of kid-friendly games provided by Disney that will be sure to keep them entertained and engaged. It's a fun little break from homework for the whole family.
Smart Home

Apple HomePod can now make calls, set timers, and more

Apple's latest software update for its HomePod smart speaker is bringing some interesting new features like support for multiple timers and the ability to make and answer phone calls. It's available September 17.
Home Theater

In surprise announcement, OnePlus says it’s going to make a smart TV

Smartphone manufacturer OnePlus says it will release a smart TV. CEO Pete Lau will head up a new division of the company, and has hinted the TV will be simple to use, and will feature artificial intelligence.
Home Theater

Dish Network or DirecTV: Which is the better choice for you?

So, you’ve chosen to go with a satellite television provider. Check out our quick rundown of what both Dish Network and DirecTV offer in terms of content, hardware, and pricing, and why you might choose them over streaming services.
Home Theater

Pandora takes aim at Spotify’s Release Radar with smart playlist The Drop

Pandora is debuting its own answer to Spotify’s Release Radar in the form of The Drop, a weekly personalized playlist for Premium subscribers full of new music based on what they already love.
Home Theater

HDMI 2.0b is a whole lot more than just a connection to your TV

HDMI 2.0b is the backbone for many of the latest updates in 4K UHD technology. And while a new cable standard can often involve a bunch of changes for consumers, that is not the case this time around.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (October 2018)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in September and October 2018, from new comedies to terrifying horror…
Home Theater

Vizio is bringing Dolby Atmos to your living room without any setup headaches

Vizio’s new home theater sound systems offer all of the good parts of Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound to your living room without the troublesome setup chores of some other systems.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: When it happens and where to find the best deals

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Home Theater

Sol Republic delivers a long-awaited true wireless sequel with its Amps Air 2.0

Sol Republic is delivering a long-awaited sequel in its Amps Air true wireless earbuds in the Amps Air 2.0, which feature Bluetooth 5.0 and an IPX4 rating alongside the awesome charging case that fans of the original model loved.
Movies & TV

Brie Larson powers up in the first 'Captain Marvel' trailer

Academy Award winner Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel Studios movie hitting theaters in March 2019. Here's everything we know about Marvel's first female-led superhero movie.
Movies & TV

2018 Emmy Awards winners: The night of ‘Mrs. Maisel’ and diversity

The 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Colin Jost and Michael Che, was full of laughs and drama, as well as some surprises. Here is the full list of nominees, winners, and highlights from the show.