Friday, July 13, 2018

Always-on listening devices, everywhere.

An interesting thing is happening in the tech world. Little tiny microphones have gotten -really- fricking cheap.

I believe that is a dime the microphone is sitting on.

Startups such as Boston-based Vesper Technologies, Inc.—which has received money from Baidu, Bose and Amazon's Alexa Fund—are meeting the challenge with even tinier, yet more capable designs built around minuscule flaps of silicon that generate electric current when bent by sound waves. Vesper claims this gives their microphone unique capabilities, like understanding your voice even in windy conditions, and drawing zero power when awaiting a "wake word," since sound itself generates the power the microphone needs.

The total cost to equip a gadget with an array of these tiny microphones and the electronics to interpret simple commands is approaching $10 or less, says Matt Crowley, Vesper's chief executive. Individual microphones now cost between 20 cents and 60 cents, says Mike Rosa, an analyst and marketing chief at Applied Materials Inc., which supplies manufacturing equipment to makers of microchips.

You know what else is cheap and small? WiFi and Bluetooth modules, cameras, system-on-chip computers, and batteries. That zero power draw in sleep mode is a very big deal, it makes possible all sorts of applications that would otherwise bee much too power hungry.

The little thing on the end is the whole camera.
Full wireless transmitter/receiver for a cell phone type application.

Essentially it will be possible to have wireless video and sound capability in pretty much anything you can imagine, cheaply. I'm sure if a clever lad sat down and designed a dedicated silicon package, he could get it under ten bucks a unit. That means toy drones with full video/audio AND wireless AND processing on board. That means video/audio enabled glasses/brooches/rings/watches etc. Car sun visors with video/audio. Literally anything that plugs into a wall socket can be a full-on Alexa-style device.

But not in the future. I mean right now. They can do it right now. In the future it will only get smaller, cheaper and easier.

Just so you know.

The Phantom

1 comment:

ZZMike said...

The nice thing about tiny little microphones and tiny little cameras is that you can put lots of them together (as well as lots of them all over). An array of lots of tiny little cameras can produce an image of better quality than a much bigger lens (like The Light L16 Camera).

It's a case of "the walls have ears" on steroids - as well as having eyes.