Connected Objects Music

Spaco compact speakers save space and work via voice control

One problem with small wireless speakers is the quality of their sound. In other words, let’s face it: They tend to not even be all that great at the main function they were designed for.

patent-claimedSpaco is a line of 720-degree, voice-controlled speakers with adjustable lighting that also tout high-end audio performance. The speakers can be controlled by voice even in noisy situations and also offer a special levitation feature providing what its makers call uninterrupted surround sound. A 720-degree acoustics field is created by the combination of 28 dynamic and electrostatic diaphragm drivers that provide what they say is multidimensional, movie-theater grade audio. Music can be streamed from any device that has Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and Spaco supports  Wi-Fi networks with any 802.11b/g, 2.4GHz broadcast-capable router. Set-up is done via an Android and iOS app.


Tiny ONEmicro speaker uses cordless phone tech for a Bluetooth extraction

There is no shortage of small, wireless speakers on the market that use Bluetooth technology. But the sound quality of many of them leave a lot to be desired.

ONEmicro is a small, portable wireless speaker that uses the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) standard instead of Bluetooth. DECT provides superior sound quality, its manufacturer, ONEaudio, says. The speakers have been tested at over 90 dB and they fill up 120 square feet of space. The battery lasts 20 hours in HQ mode and 25 hours in ECO mode.


Sonic Blocks let you roll your own speaker set

Wireless speakers continue to be popular thanks to the growing popularity of mobile devices and the convenience of streaming music from them using Bluetooth. Networked wireless speaker systems, meanwhile, have become popular also for much the same reason, as well as the success of Sonos.

patent-claimedSonic Blocks is a wireless speaker system that goes at least a couple of steps further than most rival products. First off, it’s a modular system made up of 6-inch speaker blocks. Second, while most wireless speakers rely solely on Bluetooth, Sonic Blocks also allows users to stream music via Wi-Fi for superior sound quality. It’s also compatible with the DTS Play-Fi multi-zone wireless audio technology for Android smartphones and tablets.


AccuVoice speaker makes TV dialogue rise above the noise

Soundbars have become popular in recent years in part due to the declining quality of speakers that come with TVs. After all, today’s flat-panel TVs tend to be so thin that there is nowhere to put good-quality speakers anymore. That’s especially a problem for older TV viewers and others with hearing difficulties.

patent-claimedAccuVoice is a TV speaker from audio device manufacturer Zvox that goes a step further than one of its soundbars. That’s because AccuVoice has been specifically designed to help people with hearing loss hear dialogue from whatever show or movie they’re watching on TV. The aluminum speaker is only 17 inches wide and about 2.5 inches high and is simple to hook up because it only has one connecting cord.

Music Networking

TurnUp lets you turn up your with the flip of a switch

Wireless, multi-room speakers are becoming increasingly popular. But they don’t come cheap –- especially if customers want to install them on the wall instead of on a table or shelf.

patent-claimedTurnUp is a multi-room, wireless speaker that fits in a light switch or wall power outlet and can be used to control not only music, but a room’s lights. The speaker uses Bluetooth 4.0 and is easy to install. It can be controlled by voice from any computer, as well as from any smartphone or tablet.

Up to eight speakers can be connected. The device also answers phone calls. It works in conjunction with an Android and iOS app. TurnUp ships in December at future pricing of $129.99. But Kickstarter backers can get one for a pledge that starts at $89 for early birds. Its makers hope to raise $77,000 by June 10.




“A” speaker can send audio only to “U”

When listening to music at work or watching TV at home while other people are sleeping, it’s convenient to have a speaker that only delivers sound in the user’s direction.

patent-claimed“A” speaker does exactly that. It’s parametric speaker, that is, a speaker that sends audio only to those people who want to hear it by creating a narrow beam of sound, in much the same way that a laser creates a beam of light to focus on a precise area. Instead of producing ordinary sound waves with a single, moving electromagnetic coil and cone, “A” generates ultrasonic waves (high-frequency sound waves) that are then turned into audible sound waves. Users can connect “A” to mobile devices, stereos, TVs or any other audio sources via a 3.5mm mini-jack.

Connected Objects Music

MoodBox speaker senses your mood to play blues, show hues

editors-choiceMany people select music that’s based on their mood at any given time. MoodBox is a device designed to take full advantage of that.

It’s a 360-degree omnidirectional speaker with LEDs that responds to mood-matching music requests via voice command. MoodBox uses artificial intelligence and predictive modeling to help it learn different genres and moods of music and ambient lighting that the user likes. Music can be streamed from services including iTunes and Spotify via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Connected Objects Music

Kien speakers seek those keen on a modular wireless system

Networked wireless speaker systems are becoming increasingly popular, driven largely by the Sonos brand. But good speakers in this product category can be costly and aren’t typically designed so that they can be used outdoors

patent-claimedKien is a modular networked home audio system that lets users set up wireless speakers wherever they want –- inside or outside the house. In addition to being less expensive than many rival products, Kien also comes in a wider choice of colors than most speakers. It will be fielded in black, blue, green, red and white models, allowing consumers to better match the speakers with the colors inside their rooms. The system will ship in March 2016 and is made up of satellite speakers at $249 each and a $399 subwoofer.

The satellites are portable and operate on battery power. They can be recharged by placing them on the subwoofer. Placing the satellites next to the subwoofer via their interlocking design also creates a soundbar. Kien’s makers set an Indiegogo goal of raising $50,000 by June 17.

Kien’s design and easy portability help set it apart from most rival products on the market. Another strong feature is Dynamic Sweetspot: it tracks users’ locations and the sweet spot will follow them around so that music will always sound best wherever they’re standing, simmilar to Mass Fidelity’s smaller Core project. Unlike the similarly modular aiFi speaker, Kien is a Hi-Fi audio solution. But, like any speaker featured on a crowdfunding Web site, it’s impossible to tell from its campaign alone just how strong its audio quality is.

Imaging Smart Home

Remocam looks over a human family, controls its own device family

Once upon a time, the idea of a camera ready to capture anything in a home would have sounded like something out of 1984, But the past few years have seen no shortage of connected indoor security cameras that allow for surveillance of those unwelcome in a home or ways to check up on those who are welcome.

Remocam looks a bit like a levitating black golf ball. It includes night vision capabilities, takes a unique approach to the security cam market, going beyond watching to doing. Some of this is handled by the camera itself, which includes a speaker for, say, singing your baby to sleep remotely  But to take full advantage of the system, users will need to buy in to the company’s eclectic collection of smart home gadgets that include mainstream outlet adapters and bulbs, but also an automatic pet feeder called RemoPet. The latter is at least aggressively priced. The company seeks $50,000 in its Indiegogo Flexible Funding campaign. The basic Remocam is $199, a $50 discount off the expected retail price.

Remocam represents a middle ground between simple cameras and cameras loaded with home security sensors such as the Oomi Hub. That system also works with its own family of devices, but can also tap in to any Z-Wave device. Both systems have a great opportunity to take advantage of a larger family of devices in the connected home.

Connected Objects Interviews Music

The Backerjack Interview: Mass Fidelity’s Ben Webster on packing big sound into a travel-friendly speaker

Mass Fidelity’s Core is a paradox — a portable speaker that’s designed to produce a convincing stereo effect from virtually anywhere in the room. Actually, that’s true of multiple rooms as the system can be networked throughout the house like a Sonos system. Backers responded and the Indiegogo campaign was one of the most successful ever for a Canadian campaign. We caught up with Mass Fidelity co-founder Ben Webster to learn more bout the physics and functionality of the powerful desktop speaker due this summer.

Backerjack: Tell us a bit about Mass Fidelity and the Core.

Webster: Mass Fidelity was founded as an audio technology company with the intent on redefining the audio space. The name has a dual meaning that encapsulates our goals of bringing high-fidelity audio products to the masses and making products of substance. I started by looking at how many of my friends and family didn’t have high-quality sound systems and how much the technology scared them away. There ceased to be a middle ground at somewhere in the late 70’s, early 80’s — that’s when the divide became extreme, to the point where you were either buying junk or extremely high end stuff. What I wanted to do was build something that was attainable for the normal person that would give them a real, engaging musical experience.

This prototype of the Core has been traveling with me for the last six months and it’s changed my life. As the founder of an audio company, I have a big beefy system at home and I barely use it anymore. This thing is so convenient and it actually sounds like a stereo. You’re not gonna get around physics when considering my living room system with nine drivers, but it’s also thousands and thousands of dollars worth of components whereas this thing we’re selling for $595 gets 80-90% there. I really feel like there’s a combination of technologies about to completely flip the audio game on its head.