Tascam Portable Recorders Get WiFi

Today WiFi is in most modern cameras. Now Tascam has brought WiFi to portable audio recorders, enabling remote control from a smartphone, with instant uploading to the cloud and other features.

The Tascam DR-22WL ($149, two track) and DR-44WL ($299, four track) are Wi-Fi enabled portable audio recorders with stereo condenser microphone and multiple audio tracks. The DR-44WL can record both the internal microphones and through external XLR inputs simultaneously for a four-track recording.

The new WiFi feature works with free apps for iOS or Android devices. It provides control, file transfer and audio streaming to your smartphone. It connects with smartphones and other Wi-Fi devices directly. There is no need for a Wi-Fi router or other equipment.

You can start recording while on-stage or from anywhere in the room, while setting trim levels and check meters to make sure the transport is running. Any of the recording controls can be controlled over Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi transmission range is about 65 feet (20m) – well beyond the reach of infrared remotes – so the recorder can be placed wherever the recording sounds best. Audio can also be streamed over Wi-Fi to check the recording. Plug headphones into your smartphone and listen to a near-realtime feed from the remote recorder.

At the end of a performance, you can transfer recordings to your phone and instantly upload them to SoundCloud, Facebook, even email directly to fans.

Like Wi-Fi, perhaps audio recorders will soon sprout multiple inputs using microphone arrays. Here’s MIT’s Microphone Array Switching Demo using 1000 microphone elements that allow beam-forming and audio tracking in a crowded room with many people talking.

Who knows, perhaps digital signal processing chips like the Movidius Myriad 2, designed for computational photography, may soon provide audio surveillence from drones.

Amazon Announces Voice Activated Personal Assistant

Amazon is building a speaker that’s controlled with your voice called Echo. It will start shipping in the coming weeks.

Echo is always connected to the cloud and will provide information, music, news, weather, and more whenever you ask for it. It’s essentially a Siri-like personal assistant — but inside a speaker. The built-in voice recognition can hear users from across the room.

Seven microphones use beam-forming to pinpoint your voice and filter out background noise, including background music, in order to better understand requests. The speaker also produces 360-degree audio. It can play music from Amazon Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn Plus. And it’s fully Bluetooth compatible, making playback from Spotify and Pandora possible. The device comes to life when you say the wake word, “Alexa.”

Features include:

  • News, weather, and information: Hear up-to-the-minute weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn.
  • Music: Listen to your Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.
  • Alarms, timers, and lists: Stay on time and organized with voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping and to-do lists.
  • Questions and answers: Get information from Wikipedia, definitions, answers to common questions, and more.

It’s $199, but Prime members will be able to buy it for $99 for a limited time.

NWave Joins Weightless SIG

The Weightless SIG, which develops Internet of Things standards for long distance, low cost machine to machine connections, has announced a new parter with NWave technologies joining the group as a technology vendor. Weightless has already picked up some serious backers, including ARM, CSR, and Cable & Wireless.

While many short range M2N solutions are available, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave and others, they cannot provide long-range coverage.

The IEEE standards group has developed a couple of White Space standards that promise better range. Those include the 802.11af standard, based on Wi-Fi like protocols, for ranges up to 5 km. Additionally, the 802.22 standard, based on WiMax chipsets which incorporate polling, are designed for wireless regional area networks with ranges up to 100 km. But both of those standards appear to be targeting broadband connections.

The Weightless standards, by contrast, delivers a slower, narrow-band solution that connects to more devices and requires very little power. It may even be used on licensed cellular frequencies.

The Weightless standard aims to connect sensors that require long range connections and is targeting applications like vehicles and asset tracking, healthcare and metering.

While improved coverage can be supplied by cellular technology using GPRS, 3G and LTE, cellular costs are high, using more power and bandwidth than desirable. The Weightless SIG uses television white spaces and the lower unlicensed ISM band (800-900 MHz) for improved range using a slower but error-resistant data scheme.

Weightless uses a spreading algorithm to create a longer data sequence when the signal levels are weak. It reduces the data rate and shifts to a simpler modulation scheme to reduce the error rate or increase range. It enables coverage up to 5km (3 miles) to indoor terminals.

The Weightless SIG announced the development of the Weightless-W standard, which uses TV white spaces, last year. This year the the Weightless-N standard, using the unlicensed 800/900 MHz ISM band was announced. It uses Ultra Narrow Band (UNB) technology and operates in ISM band – 868MHz in Europe and 915MHz in the US, and may also use cellular frequencies around 800 MHz.

Professor William Webb, CEO of the Weightless SIG said, “We are delighted to welcome NWave Technologies Limited to the Weightless SIG. NWave is a leader in IoT over ISM spectrum and the company’s deep technical experience in LPWAN connectivity will make a significant contribution to the rapid development of Weightless-N. Bringing proven capability from an existing technology provider to the SIG and merging it with the expertise already established within the group will accelerate the development of Weightless-N as the leading global open standard for machine connectivity over licence exempt spectrum.”

See Dailywireless Whitespace articles, including; Qualcomm Buys Silicon Radio, Huawei Buys Neul, Weightless M2M Standard, Version 0.9, Neul’s Weightless Chip: $12

New iPads Leaked

Apple appears to have accidentally spilled the beans about the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, notes Engadget, which are expected to be announced tomorrow.

Cupertino’s tablets will apparently be getting Touch ID and burst shooting mode, which will be coming to the iPad Air 2, but not the mini 3, according to the document released by Mac 9to5. Besides the tweaked designs and Touch ID sensors, a gold color option, and a stronger A8X processor, improved camera optics, and new software can be expected at least on the new Air.

C/Net, ,9 to 5 Mac, Engadget and Twit.tv will have live coverage from Apple starting tomorrow at 10 am.

Samsung: Here Comes 60 GHz, 802.11ad

Samsung Electronics today announced a 60GHz (802.11ad) Wi-Fi technology that enables data transmission speeds of up to 4.6Gbps, a five-fold increase from 866Mbps, using the 5 GHz band. The 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology will enable a 1 gigabyte movie to be transferred between devices in less than three seconds while allowing uncompressed high-definition videos to be streamed from mobile devices. Samsung likely to include WiGig as a differentiator in its Galaxy and
Note smartphones by the end of 2015, say industry observers.

Samsung says its 802.11ad technology eliminates co-channel interference, no matter how many devices are accessing network. Samsung also enhanced the overall signal quality by developing what they say is the world’s first micro beam-forming control technology that optimizes the communications module in 1/3,000 second increments.

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) was a trade association that developed and promoted the adoption of multi-gigabit speed wireless standards over the unlicensed 60 GHz frequency band. The alliance was subsumed by the Wi-Fi Alliance in March 2013.

Samsung notes there are challenges in commercializing 60 GHz Wi-Fi because millimeter waves that travel by line-of-sight and have weak propagation characteristics that will be easily blocked by walls.

Chipsets supporting 60GHz 802.11ad are coming from a variety of sources including Qualcomm, Marvel and Broadcom as well as small, fabless semiconductor firms like Nitero. Qualcom’s Snapdragon 810, due next year, includes WiGig. Qualcomm acquired Wilocity in July 2014, and Nitero has announced its mobile WiGig solution.

Samsung said it plans to put its 802.11ad technology in a variety of devices, including audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment.

Eventually, the Wi-Fi Alliance expects chipsets to support all three bands, enabling both compatibility and new uses.

Samsung isn’t the first to promote 60 GHz for consumers. Dell introduced the Latitude 6430u laptop at the 2013 CES which included both 2.4 and 5 GHz connections, as well as a new 60 GHz connections.

Here’s a review of evolving WiFi standards:

  • IEEE 802.11n: Increased the maximum raw data rate from 54 Mbit/s to 600 Mbit/s by using as many as four spatial streams with a double width channel (40 MHz). MIMO architecture and wider channels improved speeds on 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz channels.
  • IEEE 802.11ac: Provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band. It uses 80 MHz and 160 MHz channel bandwidths (vs. 40 MHz maximum in 802.11n) and supports up to 8 spatial streams (vs. 4 in 802.11n)
  • IEEE 802.11ad: Now with the WiGig specs folded in, provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band and 60 GHz bands. The 60 GHz band is stopped by walls, so range will be shorter, but the spectrum is wider, supporting nearly 7 Gbps throughput.

The unlicensed 60 GHz band varies slightly around the world. The standard divides the unlicensed 60 GHz band into four 2.16 GHz wide channels. Data rates of up to 7 Gbits/s are possible using OFDM with different modulation schemes. A single-channel version for low-power operation is available and can deliver a speed up to 4.6 Gbits/s.

ABI Research estimates over 1.5 billion chipsets with 802.11ad will ship in 2018. Smartphones will account for nearly half of all 802.11ad-enabled products in 2018, though with less than half the volume in smartphones compared to 802.11ac, says the research firm.

The IEEE 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards may also use Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), where simultaneous streams are transmitted to different users on the same channels.

Related Dailywireless articles include; WiGig: 60 GHz WiFi Rolls Out, WiGig to Demo 4K Wireless at Intel Forum, WiGig Folded Into Wi-Fi at 60 GHz, Marvel 802.11ac: Now with 4×4 Beamforming, Fast Transistion to 802.11ac Predicts ABI, Broadcom 802.11ac for Phones, Quantenna: 802.11ac Chipset,

Goodyear Blimp Gets Competition

The Goodyear Blimp is often in the sky at major television events, and with the launch of a new Goodyear Blimp in August (Wingfoot One), Goodyear officials expect their fleet of three blimps to cover 160 events in 2014.

Doug Grassian, senior manager for airship communications at Goodyear in Akron, Ohio, explained the television operations to TV Technology.

On site at the event, the crew sets up microwave gear that carries signals from the ship to the network television production truck. They generally test the system out a day before the event.

The typical equipment complement starts with an Axsys Technologies’ Cineflex V14 gyro-stabilized pan/tilt head that can also rotate. The Cineflex V14 has an integrated Sony HDC-1500 camera and Fujinon 9.7×42 lens with a 2X extender.

Inside the ship, there’s a Sony PVM-1741A HD monitor and a Tektronix WFM5200 waveform monitor for the camera operator. A Sony PDW-HD1500 HD video recorder captures the feed for safe-keeping.

For the microwave downlink, Goodyear uses Janteq and Nucomm microwave transmitters and receivers, with Gigawave antennas picking up the signal at the production truck.

The balloon-like body of the airship – the “envelope” – is made of polyester with an innovative film from DuPont™ called Tedlar, surrounding a semi-rigid internal structure, which differentiates this airship from previous Goodyear blimps. The new airship can do up to 73 mph, which means it can cover more ground, and more events, than the older 50-mph models.

Wingfoot One replaces the Spirit of Goodyear that was retired.

Helicopters like the the all-new Cabri G2 may soon give small helicopters like the Robinson R-22 and R-44 some serious competition.

The company has also signed a deal with Eurocopter to develop an unmanned variant. An unmanned demonstration used a four-dimensional flight plan that was uploaded to the helicopter.

Another competitor, the Enstrom 480B-G, is equipped with the Garmin G1000H glass cockpit.

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The cost/effectiveness of drones will be hard to top for many applications. They can now be equipped with Lidar, Flir, tiny hyperspectral cameras and 360 degree cameras (videos).

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Of course FAA rules allowing coverage over public areas is still in the works.