Are you ready for a phone call so clear you’ll want a cigarette?

HD VoiceYou may not be familiar with the name Fraunhofer, but you’re definitely familiar with its work. It’s a large research organization that has been at the forefront of many of the technological advancements that we enjoy today. Listing the non-profit’s full list of achievements would be too extensive to fit here, but to give some perspective: If you’re watching a Blu-ray, a YouTube video, or a 3D television, if you’ve listened to a song today in .mp3 or .AAC format, or if you’ve connected to the Internet via a LTE network, you’re utilizing research conducted by the folks at Fraunhofer.

Being the organization that invented both .mp3 and .AAC, Fraunhofer knows a thing or two about sound quality. When the idea of HD Voice was announced, the teams at Fraunhofer IIS (Institue for Integrated Circuits) and Fraunhofer USA were shocked. In the eyes of the researchers at the institute, the idea of HD Voice is a scam – not because it isn’t an improvement, but because it isn’t nearly enough of one. Standard phone calls take place on an audio bandwidth of up to 3.4KHz. HD Voice, using the Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR) waveband speech codec, bumps calls up to 7KHz. HP Baumeister, one of the researchers at Fraunhofer, describes this as a “timid step” at best. He believes he can do better, and is more than willing to prove it.

Baumeister had a long list of shortcomings that is produced by HD Voice, most of which stems from the codec it uses. HD Voice is designed specifically for for speech, which would seem perfect for a phone call. The problem is, your voice likely isn’t the only thing that can be heard during a call. Background noises of all kinds, from music to environment, will exist no matter what. In Baumeister’s words, the limitation of speech codecs come because they “absolutely must have voice suppression,” which means “the codec cannot deal with it [if it’s not voice].” It also requires a licensing fee to use, adding a cost to the provider and potentially the consumer.

the untapped potential of full hd voice best call youve never had

His solution? A project of Fraunhofer research: Full-HD Voice. While the name doesn’t differentiate the service that well (these guys are tech geniuses, not marketers after all), Baumeister believes the quality speaks for itself. Using the VoIP technology that we are inevitably moving toward, Full-HD Voice takes avantage of codecs designed for all sorts of audio to deliver a higher quality call experience. Improving quality to between 14KHz and 20KHz, it produces calls with the full audible spectrum. There are a total of five AAC codecs, which you’ve likely used in the past. AAC-LD is a standard in video conferencing, while AAC-ELD is the codec of choice for Apple’s FaceTime. The full AAC offering is compatible with Android 4.1 and up, AAC-ELD is present in both Android and iOS. This is the technology that powers Full-HD Voice, conveniently already available within the two most popular mobile operating systems around – no additional licensing or royalties required.

What does all this mean? Your phone is likely already capable of carrying out high quality audio conversations with sound comparable to that of a CD. Baumeister believes this can be done without increasing the bit rates of today’s phone services. The AAC-ELD codec actually achieves higher audio quality with a lower bit rate, making it for a better and more efficient conversation.

It’s crazy to think of all the advancements our phones have gone through over the past decade, the one part of that hasn’t improved is the actual call quality – You know, the thing the phone was invented for. For comparison’s sake, imagine TVs develpoed to the point they are now, big screens and thin frames, but we still watched films on VHS. You have a piece of technology in your pocket that is so advanced that it can outthink the computers that put a man on the moon. Why spend all your time on it asking people to repeat what they said or holding your arms at odd angles like rabbit ear antennas in hopes of getting better call quality?

Everything is in place for Full-HD Voice to be utilized as the standard mobile communication. It’s capable of being used cross-platform to complete audio conversations from Android to iOS devices. We just need some clever app creators to get going on making this a reality. Make our lives easier, app devs.

Learn more about Full-HD Voice and get a demo of the quality it offers and find out more about Fraunhofer’s creation here.


The Palm has been revived, and is now available in the U.S. and U.K.

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. The Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon for $350.

The best sleeping bags to help you conquer the cold, no matter what season it is

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.

Verizon begins RCS messaging rollout with the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

What is RCS messaging? It's the successor to today's text messaging. It offers features like real-time audio, read receipts, and encryption, but adoption so far has been slow. Here's everything you need to know.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.

Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.

The $200 TicWatch C2 smartwatch is now being sold in the U.S. and U.K.

Digital well-being and disconnecting from your phone is one of 2018's big trends. Mobvoi wants you to think about its TicWatch C2 smartwatch as a great way to help you use your phone less.

Yes, we really are getting a special McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T

OnePlus has announced a partnership with McLaren F1, emphasizing a shared interest in speed. The phone company is known for producing special edition devices. Here's what we know about the OnePlus 6T Mclaren Edition.

Simplify your life with one of these wireless smartphone charger deals

Banish nightly cable fumbling with a wireless smartphone charger. If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, the simplicity of placing it on a pad is a beautiful thing. Wireless chargers are also excellent gifts for coworkers.

Microsoft Outlook for iOS gets big redesign, with Dark Mode coming soon

Microsoft has deployed a huge redesign for its Outlook for iOS app, which includes new blue branding and some quality-of-life improvements. Dark Mode isn't included, but it's coming soon.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.