| SAN FRANCISCO, June 25
SAN FRANCISCO, June 25 Chipmaker Audience Inc
is acquiring a Silicon Valley startup in hopes of
helping build smartphones that can figure out what you need at
any time of the day, or even how you're sleeping at night.
Audience announced late on Tuesday it is paying $41 million
for Sensor Platforms, which creates algorithms that help analyze
data from sensors on smartphones and other mobile devices.
Mixing Sensor Platforms' technology with its own audio
processing expertise could give Audience a leg up in improving
how smartphones and other gadgets interpret what activities
their owners are doing and how to help them.
Samsung and other manufacturers are packing gyroscopes,
cameras, microphones, barometers and other sensors into
smartphones. But those sensors drain battery power, and app
developers are trying to find more ways to use them.
Audience wants to design low-power chips that build on its
audio expertise by analyzing data from several sensors at once.
Chief Executive Peter Santos used sleep analysis as an example.
Sleep analysis apps on smartphones or smart wrist bands
currently rely mostly on motion sensors to detect tossing and
turning at night. But they could be much improved using a
processor designed to combine and analyze data about movement,
the sound of breathing and background noise like a blaring
television or noisy neighbors.
"The presence or lack of snoring, the pace and evenness of
breathing. There's a lot more information that's available
acoustically," Santos told Reuters on Wednesday. "Having the
intelligence and being able to make sense of the sound
information is something we excel at."
The Mountain View, California company lost Apple as
its largest customer in 2012, and it now depends on smartphone
leader Samsung Electronics for most of its business.
Its revenue last year was $161 million, making it a relatively
small player in the global smartphone supply chain. Like other
chipmakers, it is increasingly focusing on emerging wearable
Audience's interest in context-aware computing is not
limited to the bedroom. Santos says smartphones and a growing
crop of smart watches and other intelligent clothing should do a
better job of combining audio with other sensors to interpret
and react to a range of situations and activities, like riding a
bike or traveling on a train.
"We're seeing more and more companies looking at the sensory
area," said Chardan Capital Markets analyst Jay Srivatsa. "The
good part for Audience is that the sensory business is much like
voice processing in that there are no standards. It all comes
from algorithms you develop internally."
(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by David Gregorio)