Device Manufacturers Plan Wireless Stereo Headphones, Headsets, Speakers for Fall Market Based on Zeevo's New ZV4301 ARM7-based "Open" Bluetooth Audio ProcessorSANTA CLARA, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—July 20, 2004— Zeevo, Inc., a leading provider of single-chip Bluetooth communications solutions, announced today its third-generation, high performance Bluetooth microcontroller solution that is the first in the world to permit the transmission of CD-quality sound over wireless Bluetooth links. The company's ARM7-based Bluetooth controller and accompanying software form a complete, low-cost embedded design solution for quality audio over Bluetooth, as well as for other performance-sensitive Bluetooth applications.
Today's announcement means that Bluetooth -- the increasingly available wireless standard for connecting personal use devices with their peripherals -- can finally be applied to portable MP3 players, MP3-capable cell phones or PDAs, and even consumer stereo systems, to provide wireless connections to stereo headphones, headsets, or speakers without any sacrifice in audio quality. Previous implementations of Bluetooth -- used primarily for wireless keyboards, mice, or mono cell phone headsets -- have not been able to attain CD-quality level that consumers have come to expect with their wired audio appliances, due to technical limitations.
Those limitations have now been overcome, said Zeevo co-founder and marketing vice president Anil Aggarwal. "We recognized several years ago that notwithstanding the rapidly expanding use of Bluetooth for the elimination of wires between cell phones and mono headsets, or between keyboards, mice, or PDAs and a PC, one of the most exciting applications for Bluetooth was going to be personal audio and consumer electronic devices -- including enhanced cell phones -- that provide stereo audio without wires. But the challenge this brings is to provide quality audio -- CD-quality audio, in fact -- and that is not easy to do over Bluetooth."
According to Aggarwal, Zeevo embarked upon a multi-year research and development program to achieve an audio-quality benchmark that it today calls "Sound Design for Bluetooth." "We focused extensive resources on the issues of quality, robustness in mixed wireless environments, and user friendliness, and that led us to the unique architecture of our new transceiver/microcontroller chip, and the third-generation of software that makes CD-quality audio over Bluetooth possible. Together, they represent the first available embedded Bluetooth design platform for original device manufacturers (ODMs) that addresses this exciting market."
Joyce Putscher, director, converging markets & technologies of market analyst Instat/MDR agrees with Aggarwal's assessment of the potential for this market, and Zeevo's contribution: "Thanks to the marketing of Apple's extremely popular iPod, the image of a jammin' consumer -- with headphones conspicuously tethered to an MP3 player in her hand -- has become a status symbol. But when consumers catch wind that they can listen to all their tunes, only without the wires, a new "wireless freedom" wave in personal audio -- and a compelling application for Bluetooth, will quickly take shape. The fact that Zeevo has overcome the significant technical challenges with a designer-friendly solution makes it, in essence, an enabling technology for this new, emerging market segment."
The ZV4301 Single-chip Bluetooth Platform and ZSound(TM) Software
Zeevo's new Bluetooth audio design solution, targeted at original device manufacturers, is made up of the new ZV4301 Bluetooth processor, Zeevo's ZSound(TM) software, as well as reference designs for a range of representative audio projects, and a development environment that enables designers to achieve a very fast time to market.
The new ZV4301 processor consists of a high-performance, 48 megahertz (MHz) ARM7 microcontroller combined with RF (radio frequency) processing, digital signal processing, communications processing, and algorithmic and control processing, on a single, low-cost transceiver (transmitter-receiver) chip. Included in the solution is Zeevo's unique ZSound software that implements the technically-challenging, highly-optimized audio processing and Quality of Service (QoS) algorithms. Together, they represent a complete "sound design solution" for embedding quality audio over Bluetooth capability into cost- and performance-competitive consumer products.
In addition to its unique capability to support CD-quality sound, the ZV4301 is the only Bluetooth embedded microcontroller available today that uses an industry-standard RISC processor architecture -- the popular 32-BIT ARM7TDMI 32-bit "core" -- in an open platform configuration. This means that not only can ODMs customize a ZV4301-based solution to their specific needs, using a widely-understood programming environment, but also they can take advantage of available and emerging software written for the ARM7 that can extend or augment the performance of their products. Code written for Zeevo's ZV4301 is binary-compatible with other members of the ARM7 family, and forward compatible with the ARM9, ARM9E, and ARM10 families.
High Performance, Low Cost, Low Power, Broad Range of Applications
Zeevo's new Bluetooth audio design solution supports CD-quality sound, with the standard CD sampling rate of 44.1 KHz (kilohertz). Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is better than 82 dB. Audio output power is 30 mW (milliwatts) RMS. Power consumption is extremely low, enabling a minimum of 14 hours of play time with two AAA batteries. RF sensitivity is better than -85 dBm, which aids in prolonging battery life, and improves audio quality. The total bill of materials (BOM) for both ends of a wireless stereo headphone solution -- including two Zeevo chips -- is expected to be less than $25 in high-volume production.
Typical audio applications for the ZV4301 include wireless stereo headphones, stereo cell phone headsets, MP3-enabled feature phones, audio-visual (A/V) equipment such as MP3 players, personal stereos, or televisions, smart phones, and personal digital assistants. The ZV4301 platform, and the accompanying ZSound(TM) software, are extremely design friendly, and offer a number of user-oriented features such as seamless mode switching -- for example, between mono cell calls and MP3 stereo on a converged MP3 cell phone -- or fail-soft roll-off of audio levels as users wander outside the range of their Bluetooth-enabled players.
The ZV4301 is also ideal for non-audio, Bluetooth 1.2-compliant applications, such as printers, cellular peripherals, access points, or industrial controls. The ZV4301 platform supports all required and optional Bluetooth 1.2 features.
Price and Availability
The ZV4301 is in production, and is available today directly from Zeevo or its sales representatives. The processor -- which includes the ZSound software -- is priced at $8.95 in quantities of 10,000. The evaluation and development system, as well as reference designs for stereo headphones, mono and stereo headsets, audio line-out adapters, and USB plug-and play adapters are additionally offered.
"The immediate availability of our new Bluetooth audio processor platform means that ODMs can have products well into production in time to meet their 'high season' -- the 'back-to-school' and Christmas markets worldwide," explained Aggarwal. According to him, the ZV4301 is actively being designed into numerous consumer products that will be broadly available at that time.
Zeevo is a leading-edge semiconductor provider that designs and markets "system-on-a-chip" (SoC) mobility wireless products for use in portable and handheld devices ranging from cellular phones to MP3 players to personal computers. Zeevo's latest wave of products uniquely solve the problem of high quality audio over Bluetooth -- increasingly in demand as the wireless movement floods over in to headsets, stereo headphones, and speakers. The company pioneered the concept of "Sound Design for Bluetooth(TM)," a quality, reliability and convenience benchmark for Bluetooth audio that includes high-quality audio, interference-free co-existence with 802.11 wireless, dynamic mode switching for convergence applications, and fail-soft out-of-range behavior.
Zeevo Bluetooth platforms integrate analog, digital, and radio-frequency (RF) circuitry, as well as memory and a programmable ARM7 processor, on a single-chip built using highly cost-effective, standard CMOS technology. Zeevo's chips are delivered in design- and manufacturing-friendly packages that incorporate all RF components, and are accompanied by Zeevo's advanced ZSound(TM) algorithms, CODEC interfaces, and operating software. This results in quality Bluetooth audio solutions that are distinguished by small size, low cost, low power consumption and ease of integration by OEMs and ODMs into market-leading end products.
Zeevo supports open, industry-standard development tools, and an easy-to-use application program interface (API) and development environment on its Bluetooth platforms, which enable customers to easily customize their solutions and deliver differentiated products.
Zeevo was founded September 1999 in Silicon Valley by industry veterans. Investors in the privately-held company include Sequoia Capital, Raza Venture, Focus Ventures, WK Technology Fund, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), CDIB, Winbond, and Capital Group Companies. Company URL is www.zeevo.com.
Editors' Note: All trademarks and registered trademarks are those of their respective companies and organizations.
"Ipod" in the context of this release is a registered trademark of Apple Computer, Inc., and it is used as exemplary of a class of consumer audio products. Endorsement of Zeevo or its products by Apple is not to be construed.
Additional background information is available at www.roeder-johnson.com.
Zeevo, Inc. 408-982-8000 (Customer Information) Fax: 408-982-8008 Email Contact or Roeder-Johnson Corporation (Press Information) Paul Michelson/Abigail Johnson, 650-802-1850 http://email.roeder-johnson.com