Summit Wireless has been a quest to turn high-resolution, like the kind you find in a fancy home theater, to wireless speakers. And now that quest is turning into a reality as high-end audio companies like Harman Kardan are beginning to announce products.
San Jose, California-based Summit Wireless is a publicly traded company that makes wireless sound technology, including chips that are used in devices that are used in consumer products from the likes of Harman Kardan and Bang & Olufsen. There are a billion dollars worth of speakers sold each year in the U.S., but most of those are wired. Summit Wireless is enabling a generation of home theater wireless speakers with an entry price of $600, or much less than other products.
Most speaker companies have been making wired home audio products for home theaters with as many as seven speakers and subwoofers for Dolby 7.1 systems. But Summit Wireless helped form a wireless standards body, the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association (WiSA), to work with major consumer electronics brands to come up with certified standards for interoperability and get rid of complicated setups.
These so-called intelligent networks can connect with each other and produce low-latency wireless sound that meets the standards of audiophiles.
“The beauty of the Summit technology is it is so easy to set it up,” said Michael Howse, a Summit Wireless board member and partner at Eleven Ventures, in an interview with VentureBeat. “It’s wireless, it’s self-forming. The hard part here is the synchronization of the speaker network.”
Harman Kardan last week revealed its Citation Series, demonstrating how wireless smart speakers can fit into a home audio system with low latency, multi-channel audio, and a full immersive experience, said Brett Moyer, CEO of Summit Wireless, in an interview with VentureBeat.
“If you’re going to go to immersive sound, you’ll put six speakers or more in a room,” said Moyer. “With Harman, they can start with a single voice speaker and also complete the system with a full sound field around the consumer.”
You can also use the tech on home video game console, like the Xbox One.
“There’s a whole audience of younger consumers who are getting great audio at things like esports events, and when they play at home on the Xbox One, they’re going to want that experience of a simulated sound field too,” Howze said. “That’s why I think this company has a very interesting future.”
Moyer said the next evolution of the technology will be WiSA-ready products across the consumer electronics ecosystem. You can expect to see computer makers and TV makers making such announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show coming up in January. Eventually, you’ll want to walk into a room with your smartphone and connect to a wireless speaker network with no effort, Moyer said.
“The Harman Kardon Citation Series sets a new standard for premium, wireless home audio and entertainment systems, and Summit Wireless is an integral part of our delivering sophisticated, seamless solutions to consumers,” said Dave Rogers, president of consumer audio at Harman International, in a statement. “Leveraging Summit’s WiSA-certified technology enables us to offer unprecedented immersive sound experiences that take full advantage of the today’s most intelligent devices.”
The company was founded in 2012, and it has 40 employees. Summit Wireless has raised $75 million to date.
“We’re excited,” Moyer said. “We’re coming into a big year.”