Aura Communications has announced the first samples of its LibertyLink LL888 system-on-chip, for enabling high-quality wireless voice and stereo audio. The chip provides wireless stereo headphone capability for MP3 players, portable DVD players and audio-capable mobile phones – or indeed virtually any portable product where digital audio performance must be coupled with long battery life and low cost. The technology was previewed in ‘real life’ earlier his year by Creative Technology, whose wireless-enabled Zen Micro MP3 player is based on the LibertyLink LL888 chip.
The most interesting feature of the LibertyLink LL888 is that it uses a patented form of Near Field Communication (NFC) rather than conventional radio frequency technology (such as Bluetooth) to enable digital audio wireless performance. NFC is a short-range wireless connectivity standard that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices when they’re touched together, or brought within a few centimetres of each other.
Jointly developed by Philips and Sony, the standard specifies a way for the devices to establish a peer-to-peer (P2P) network to exchange data. After the P2P network has been configured, another wireless communication technology, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, can be used for longer range communication or for transferring larger amounts of data.
Unlike Bluetooth, which radiates in the crowded frequency band at 2.4GHz, Aura’s technology is more private and secure as it operates at 13.5MHz – it completely avoids the interference of the 2.4GHz band. Aura Communications claims that the chip’s magnetic signals creates a ‘secure communication bubble that surrounds the user and is uniquely owned by each user for reliable and private communications.
The chip is currently scheduled for production quantity availability by the second quarter of 2005, with pricing set on an individual customer basis, but expected to be under $5 (US) in OEM quantities.