While many devices on the market claim to be wireless, they almost always require a wire at some point that is external to the device, itself. This could be in the form of a headphone jack such as those found on smartphones or an external USB port for charging. A truly wireless device would have no external connector ports, have an internal battery, and have wireless charging capabilities.
Huawei has taken a step in that direction by implementing true wireless technology into their FlyPod wireless in-ear earphones. These earphones are small and light and still manage to include their own internal battery, provide wireless charging, and have no external connectors (which makes them look like something straight out of a sci-fi movie).
The devices also integrate ambient noise cancellation, noise reduction, voice enhancements, and voice control. The ability to achieve these capabilities comes down to hardware, which is where Dialog Semiconductor comes in.
Enter the DA14195 SoC
The DA14195 is an SoC developed by Dialog Semiconductor that incorporates an efficient 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 clocked at 165MHz as well as a 32-bit C-programmable Cadence HiFi3 DSP clocked at 290MHz. The combination of the two units in a single chip reduces the size of designs significantly, which can translate to the difference between a headphone and wireless in-ear earphone (as in Huawei’s case).
The SoC can be powered from a wide range of voltages commonly found in small batteries from 1.9V to 5V without the need for any regulation or power management. This further reduces the size of wireless audio devices based around the DA14195.
The DA14195 also integrates USB 2.0 at both high and full speed, multiple HCI clocking schemes for Bluetooth integration, dual input 10-bit ADC, and has possible sample rates up to 192kHz. It allows for battery management for Li-ion and Li-polymer batteries and supports a range of digital audio interfaces including SPDIF, PDM, SPI, UART, and I2C. The IC comes in a 0.4mm wafer-level chip-scale package and uses 81-balls.
“Headsets based on the DA14195 will allow consumers using USB to connect at high speed to personal and online content libraries at data rates up to 480 Mbps. Additionally, the DA14195 is fully compatible with USB 3.0 type C.”
- Sean McGrath, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Connectivity, Automotive & Industrial Business Group at Dialog
While the SoC is currently the heart of the Huawei FlyPod wireless earphones, its application range also includes the use of USB and Bluetooth active headphones, headsets, and even position-aware applications.
Since the DA14195 is capable of ambient noise cancellation, it can potentially be used to improve voice clarity in environments that would otherwise be too problematic for conversational speech. The inbuilt voice enhancements and echo cancellation make the DA14195 ideal for rooms with noise reflection issues (such as large rooms lacking furniture) which may make the DA14195 suitable for purpose-built echo-cancelation microphones.
The voice control ability, too, may be desirable to companies integrating AI and other forms of assistant control such as Microsoft with their recent HoloLens 2.
The DA14195 is an example of how close we're getting to enabling truly wireless devices.
Do you think truly wireless devices are right around the corner or are you dubious? Have you designed with noise-cancellation in mind before? Share your thoughts and expertise in the comments below.