Consumer tech giant licenses Belfast firm’s IP

8 Jun 2010

A major manufacturer of embedded wireless components for consumer devices has licensed Belfast firm APTX’s technology for high-quality wireless stereo via Bluetooth. The technology could soon feature in major electronic OEMs’ goods.

Global player Laird Technologies selected APTX’s apt-X technology to optimise the objective sound quality of stereo audio channelled over the 2.4GHz ISM band from all four members of its latest family of Bluetooth modules.

Each of the Laird BTM modules – the “Class 2” (~10m range) 521 and antenna-less 520, and the more powerful “Class 1” (~100m range) 511 and antenna-less 510 – incorporates the CSR BlueCore5 semiconductor, the Bluetooth 2.1 system-on-a-chip used extensively in digital entertainment devices from media players, mobiles, and smartphones, to laptops, tablets and games consoles.

Every BTM module comes pre-configured with apt-X audio codec software; OEMs are not required to program in extra firmware.

Asked to comment on the reasons for the licensing agreement with APTX, Carl Baker, the UK-based director of sales for Laird Technologies, said: “Laird Technologies wanted the best possible stereo audio quality for BTM, its new Bluetooth stereo wireless audio module designs based on the CSR BlueCore5.

“Once we listened objectively to speakers playing uncompressed music and MP3 audio material streaming over Bluetooth A2DP wireless, we immediately knew we needed apt-X coding technology. With apt-X switched in there’s a marked improvement in the sonic purity of Bluetooth stereo audio,” Baker explained.

The BTM 510, 511, 520 and 521 Bluetooth stereo wireless audio modules are available now through Laird Technologies’ worldwide sales channels.

Sales volumes of actual shipped modules are anticipated to reach about 1M units per annum in 12 months’ time, given the increasing pace of new product design cycles in today’s global electronics industry, and the phenomenal worldwide demand for Bluetooth connectivity in everyday electronic appliances.

Bluetooth capability already resides in more than two billion electronic devices.

“This strategic licence agreement with Laird opens previously untapped Hi-Fi markets to apt-X stereo Bluetooth,” said Stephen Wray, VP, Licensing for APTX.

“The availability of Laird’s best-in-class Bluetooth modules pre-installed with apt-X allows high-end audio designers to specify off-the-shelf, standards-based wireless audio technology for new product development; apt-X audio coding circumvents the channel bandwidth constraints inherent in the stereo Bluetooth profile and enables full-frequency bandwidth wireless audio streaming for the richest stereo sound possible,” Wray said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years