updated 05:19 pm EST, Mon January 6, 2014
Hardware, SDK offer convenient AirPlay incorporation, better audio synchronization
Apple's AirPlay technology, already popular in mobile and audio equipment circles, will become even easier to add to future audio accessories thanks to a new high-definition audio SDK put out by Broadcom, which includes the technology on its chips. When combined, the company's networking hardware and the new SDK make it faster and easier for new devices to handle AirPlay, speaker synchronization, latency mitigation and other issues automatically.
WICED chipset (not to scale)
Another bonus from using Broadcom's hardware in future audio devices is that Broadcom already has a "master license" for AirPlay, meaning other manufacturers don't have to separately license AirPlay directly from Apple. Broadcom refers to the SDK and 802.11n wireless hardware as a "turnkey solution" for accessory manufacturers. The SDK is part of Broadcom's Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) initiative, which aims to add advanced Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to more household and small electronics items, including "house control" devices, fitness equipment, cameras, HDTVs and audio equipment of all types.
The company says that the new SDK "improves synchronization and offers significant range benefits that enable multiple configurations with multiple speakers on the same Wi-Fi network," and supports high-quality audio codecs including WavPack and Celt, along with sampling rates up to 96KHz. The changes mean that AirPlay-compatible speakers, for example, could be placed anywhere within range of the home or office Wi-Fi network without requiring separate receivers -- an option that would significantly lower the cost of multi-room speaker setups.