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Silicon Valley-based DSP Concepts Announces Investment from SUBARU-SBI Innovation Fund to Accelerate In-Vehicle Audio & Voice Controls

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【Summary】Silicon Valley-based digital audio processing company DSP Concepts announced an investment from the SUBARU-SBI Innovation Fund, a joint venture between automaker Subaru and Japan’s SBI Investment Co. The company is most recognized for its Audio Weaver software platform, which is designed to help to automakers create audio interfaces or add custom sounds to vehicles, including EVs.

Eric Walz    Dec 10, 2020 12:45 PM PT
Silicon Valley-based DSP Concepts Announces Investment from SUBARU-SBI Innovation Fund to Accelerate In-Vehicle Audio & Voice Controls

As modern vehicles become an extension of people's digital lives, some of the technology that's traditionally outside of the auto industry, such as digital assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, are appearing in today's connected cars.

Many new models from the world's top automakers, such as the new Mercedes Benz MBUX platform, now support driver voice commands for many of the vehicle's controls. As a result, there is a growing need for solutions in the auto industry for robust audio processing capabilities and creating sounds that provide audible feedback for drivers and passengers. 

One company providing these services is Silicon Valley-based DSP Concepts, which just announced an investment from the SUBARU-SBI Innovation Fund, a joint venture between automaker Subaru and Japan's SBI Investment Co that invests in promising companies and startups.

Other investors include Taiwania Capital, Porsche Digital, Innovation Growth Ventures/Sony Innovation Fund, MediaTek Ventures, and the ARM IoT Fund. 

With the company's latest investment DSP Concepts to date has raised a total of $28.4 million for its digital signal processing audio solutions.

"We are proud to be joining the ranks of other elite investors partnering with the leader in automotive audio and voice technology development," said Asahi Kobayashi of the SUBARU-SBI Innovation Fund. "We're acutely aware of the complex, time consuming and costly process that goes into developing and deploying automotive audio features.  We were impressed with DSP Concepts' experience in that space and are equally impressed with its voice solutions for the consumer space.

DSP Concepts Audio Weaver Software

DSP Concepts was founded in 2003 and based in Santa Clara, CA, with additional offices in Boston, Stuttgart and Taiwan. The company is most recognized for its Audio Weaver audio development software platform, which is designed to help to streamline the audio development process for sound engineers, so automakers create audio interfaces or add custom sounds to vehicle models, including electric vehicles. 

Audio Weaver includes a framework of 500 drag-and-drop modules from leading audio designers. The modules and software helps streamline development of systems that produce sound or provide audio prompts. These types of audio cues are an important part of the user experience (UX) when interacting with technology, especially in the automotive space.  

Some examples are a radio volume knob that produces gentle confirmation beeps as the volume is changed. 

Audio cues are also an important component of today's advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), alerting drivers to road hazards, such as when a vehicle is drifting outside of lane markers on vehicles equipped with a lane keeping assist feature. Creating these sounds requires careful audio signal routing, planning and mixing, according to DSP Concepts.

"We designed our Audio Weaver platform so that engineers of all levels can easily design, develop and deploy new audio features across a range of devices, including automotive, which is hands-down the most complex audio system in a person's everyday life," said Chin Beckmann, CEO of DSP Concepts. 

Audio Weaver also allows engineers to create sounds for near-silent electric vehicles. This can be a challenge without a standardized software development platform for creating signature audio cues. DSP Concepts is addressing this growing need in the EV space with its Audio Weaver platform. 

The National highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) now requires that automakers add sounds to electric vehicles, so pedestrians and visually imparied people can hear them when nearby.

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 requires that EVs produce artificial sounds so that pedestrians can "reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle", including when driving at constant speed, accelerating or decelerating. 

As a result, automakers like Porsche, which is an investor in DSP Concepts, are now creating their own custom signature sounds for their electric vehicles.

Drivers of high-end sports cars for example, are often enthralled by the exhaust note of their car's engine. Enthusiasts are especially aware that there are signature sounds associated with specific high-performance vehicles, such as the Porsche 911 and Audi R8 and Ford Mustang Shelby. 

In modern engines that produce less noise, these types of sounds can now be digitally enhanced or recreated for the driver using digital signal processing and played through speakers in the cabin, so the car sounds more aggressive.

The new fully-electric Porsche Taycan for example, produces a signature sound when accelerating, providing the driver with audio cues to their inputs. The sounds were created using Audio Weaver

For Taycan EV, Porsche wanted to recreate its unmistakable exhaust note and engine growl from its internal combustion engine models for a near silent electric powertrain. The sounds provide audible feedback for drivers, such as when the accelerator is floored, so a driver feels more connected to the car, according to Porsche. 

DSP Concepts has also assisted Tesla. The Model 3 is equipped with a digital signal processor to produce sounds both inside and outside of the car.  The California company recently added an external speaker to the front undercarriage of the Model 3 sedan to produce sounds for nearby pedestrians and other road users. The sounds were created and tuned using Audio Weaver. 

The company most recently worked with automaker Mercedes Benz on sound tuning for the audiophile-grade Burmeister audio system in the 2021 S-class sedan. Audio Weaver allows engineers to utilize up to 32 individual speakers to create a truly immersive listening environment.

Audio Weaver is currently deployed in more than 40 million devices in the automotive and consumer goods industry.


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