Upcoming Audio Technology Trends in 2019:
1. Focused Audio
This is the next level of directional audio – where audio content is played directly in your ears without wearing any device, even as you’re moving around. Demonstrated by Noveto Systems as early as CES 2018, This year at CES 2019 we expect to see a better performing demonstration along with possibilities of actual devices being launched with focused audio.
2. AptX adaptive devices
Headphones and earphones supporting Qualcomm’s AptX adaptive codec start showing up in the market. This codec can vastly improve Bluetooth audio quality, with compression ratios from 5:1 to 10:1, without losing backwards compatibility. Supported data rates are 276kBit/s & 420kBit/s, leaving more bandwidth for correction.
3. In-display speakers
After in-display fingerprint sensors became mainstream in 2018, in-display speakers will be showcased by display manufacturers early in 2019 and the technology will hit the smartphone and TV markets in the latter half of 2019. Samsung is planning to use piezoelectric actuators and calling it Sound on Display. It will probably come with the Galaxy Note 10 in the fall of 2019. TDK has demonstrated PiezoListen earlier this year.
4. Dynamic Audio Ads
Personalised audio ads that take into account information about you, like the day of the week, the music you’re listening to, your location etc on streaming services. Pandora has already rolled this out, and we will see more free-to-use ad-powered streaming services follow suit. For e.g ‘Hi Digit, it’s another sunny Wednesday in Mumbai – have a cold latte from XYZ on your way to work’
5. Realtime translation becomes usable
While it’s initial mainstream launch was with the Pixel Buds, realtime translation in wireless earbuds will be finally usable in 2019. While realtime translation from Google is available on all assistant powered headphones, the update might see specific improvements or features for the Pixel Buds.
6. 2nd Gen true wireless IEMs, Hearables
While 2018 was the year for every major and minor brand to dip their hands into the truly wireless earbud honeypot, 2019 will see them refine their offerings in terms of battery life and connectivity, the two major pain points. We are expecting an upgrade to the Airpods with the Airpods 2, with features like noise cancellation, Siri support, biometric measurements and more. We could even see these features divided between Airpods 2 and 3, with 3 slated to launch late 2019 or early 2020. Alongside this, we could see Samsung launch the Samsung Buds, patented recently, as well as first gen earbuds from Google and Amazon.
7. USB-C audio: improved or eliminated?
As rumours surface of the last headphone jacks on popular smartphones disappearing in 2019, developments of new, better USB-C headphones from Samsung, LG could give the technology some much needed support. Unless most brands chose to go with the true wireless strategy, in which case, bye bye USB-C from smartphones.
8. Wider aptX support
While aptX adaptive will start entering the market, aptX itself will become the lowest common denominator for any wireless audio device looking to make a mark. Since aptX adaptive devices will also be backwards compatible, audio manufacturers might launch cheaper aptX alternatives to more expensive aptX adaptive slated to launch around summer 2019.
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