Mister Beacon Episode #166
Snapdragon Sound with Mike CanevaroMay 30, 2023
This week we have the Director, marketing, and head of Snapdragon Sound, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Mike Canevaro. We explore the revolutionary world of Bluetooth audio. Delve into the realm of improved Bluetooth audio, uncovering the latest advancements in audio codecs and their impact on the quality of our listening experiences. Gain insights into the ongoing differences between lossless, high-resolution, and spatial audio, and how they shape our experience of sound.
Discover the cutting-edge Bluetooth standards, including LE Audio and multi-language support, with a special focus on the game-changing Auracast Broadcast technology. Mike passionately believes that Bluetooth audio has reached a level where it can rival wired connections, offering an array of captivating features such as surround sound and spatial audio. Tune in and prepare to be amazed by the endless possibilities that Snapdragon Sound brings to the world of audio.
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Steve Statler 00:00
Welcome to the Mr. Beacon podcast this week, I am talking to the folks at Qualcomm. If you're not familiar with them, you probably aren't, you've probably heard of the brand. But it's worth getting to know them in some detail $44 billion revenue, a year company, they spend over $8 billion on r&d, they are a formidable force in mobile. And full disclosure, I used to work there work there for seven years. And that's where I first came in touch with Bluetooth beacons when they developed the first Bluetooth beacon that was deployed nationally by a tier one retailer in the Apple stores. And it is a very interesting company. They're also an investor in in Willie up. So I have a conversation with Mike Cannavaro, who's director responsible for Snapdragon sound, which is a technology bundle that basically delivers super high quality audio, and we talk a lot about where that technology is going surround sound lossless audio, and the dynamics of that particular part of the mobile marketplace. Turns out that Mike used to work at CSR, which is also a really important company that Qualcomm bought, that did a lot of pioneering in the Bluetooth beacon space. So plenty of reasons to listen, I hope you enjoy the conversation. The Mr. Beacon ambient IoT podcast is sponsored by Willie bringing intelligence to every single thing. So Mike, thanks for the invitation to join you. You're here at Qualcomm. Yeah,
Mike Canevaro 01:55
it's it's great to have you here. And I'm looking forward to chatting.
Steve Statler 01:57
This is sort of hella tough. It's the center of it, I was looking at a plaque on the way in and from the IEEE, that was commemorating the birth of CDMA that then resulted in 3g And you know, the the first app stores that were paying out billions of dollars were coded. Here, here. That's how I ended up but working working at Qualcomm, and now and courtrooms known for all sorts of things, maybe you should like for for people that have been under, in a dark cupboard for for the last 30 years. You know, one of the highlights of Qualcomm, I think of them as basically the biggest mobile semiconductor company in the world, but they're bigger.
Mike Canevaro 02:44
Yeah, I mean, I, yeah, I think you're right. I mean, I think I think he's a progress through the GES. You know, Qualcomm was there, and you said it yourself. I mean, this is hollow ground when it comes to mobile communications, just in general, from day one, you know, this is my second stint with Qualcomm having just rejoined about a year ago, and, and even now years on, I'm impressed with not just a patent wall outside that, that everybody walks past when we come in the building. But just to think about the way that we communicate the way that we consume content, the way the devices communicate with one another, the way that, you know, this, Maurice lander over here communicates I mean, the fact that we have played a part and so much of that, over the last 30 plus years is, is quite impressive. I think today, what's interesting about Qualcomm is it's not so much about just the communication setting, it clearly that plays a big part. And, and we are certainly the the premier semiconductor supplier into, you know, into the mobile ecosystem. But I think it's so much more than that today. And you know, what, what our CMO has done, and he's brought this, this this idea of last few years of really connecting with consumers, which is challenging to do for a company like us where we make and we make the ingredients in the product, we don't always make the finished product. And so one of the things that I think for your listeners and viewers to really understand is that Qualcomm is not just call company. It's, it's it's Snapdragon and I think and I think for those within the Android ecosystems, you know, those that are familiar with meta quest are those that are familiar with our exploits in automotive as an example. Snapdragon is becoming synonymous with not just connectivity but premium quality and you know, the last couple of years we've built a number of what we call these experience brands. And really the idea is to connect more with consumers then then a normal semiconductor or technology company might be able to in our in ours in our situation, and so you've got Snapdragon sight, you know, a lot of our camera technology we're here to talk a bit about Snapdragon sound or our audio technologies. And so many of these brands the Snapdragon a greedy brands, consumers are becoming exposed to we have a tremendous following and insider program called Snapdragon insiders where we've got 10 plus million People around the world did engage with our brand. And so we've done this incredible job in a short amount of time to kind of not not shed who Qualcomm was in any way, but really touch consumers in a new way. Because we're, we're not just, you know, we're not just consuming content on a mobile device on the latest Samsung phone or metta quest, you know, set of goggles. We're engaging in equipment and we're involved in so many other pieces. And so I think at the forefront of that is is that is that Snapdragon brand,
Steve Statler 05:28
I've seen the evolution and gosh, I'm trying to think of how long ago was I first came to visit Qualcomm before I got a job here I was doing sales calls BD exploratory calls, and I remember getting off the plane in San Diego, and I held a cab and they said to me to Qualcomm headquarters, I knew that Qualcomm was a big deal. And the guy said, Sure, no problem off, we went, and we went straight to the football stadium. He was like know, sexually, a really big business that makes modems and processes and and at the time, hugely, an app store that paid out billions. So at that time, Snapdragon was just really being thought of as, as a brand. And the fact that you now have, you don't have Qualcomm Stadium, you have its Snapdragon eight stadium. And my, the thing that I appreciate as a market here is the work that's gone into doing that, and we were talking over lunch, I was looking to buy some audio equipment. And I wanted something with really good Bluetooth I'd been having not such a great experience with the unit I had, and I couldn't believe it sad. Now Qualcomm is being built in the literature, the sales literature of everyone from you know, that small brands that are trying to get legitimacy to prestige brands like Macintosh and so forth. So congratulations on that. So, Mike, what is Snapdragon sound?
Mike Canevaro 07:00
Sure. So Snapdragon sound is really a suite of technologies that deliver the best quality audio over Bluetooth, the lowest latency available over Bluetooth and the most robust connections over Bluetooth. And, you know, those are kind of techie and geeky ways of saying that a consumer is going to get a premium audio experience, no matter the content, gaming, video, music streaming, listen to content locally from your, you know, from your your computer. Latency critically important when we're watching Netflix, or we're or we're gaming latency is it's it's, I would say it's been one of the knocks on Bluetooth for many, many years for the ability that we can now utilize Bluetooth in these in these experiences, is so powerful and compelling.
Steve Statler 07:46
And when it's not that it's really fun, it's almost like a subliminal level, it's like tiring and annoying when the when the voice and the lips don't work. And I guess if I would say it's been fighting for your life, and again, then it's,
Mike Canevaro 07:58
it's even worse. In fact, I would say in the gaming space, it's one of the reasons that, you know, maybe blitz with hadn't been as successful in in, in the gaming space wireless gaming space,
Steve Statler 08:11
what's the alternative to Bluetooth, so if you're a gamer,
Mike Canevaro 08:14
proprietary 2.4 Gig solutions, you know, I would say, you know, Qualcomm's got a real strong position on that. And we'll be able to talk more about that, hopefully soon. And the third really kind of KPI or metric that we measure is robustness. And this is that that piece that I said is kind of kind of techie. But it's really a way of saying that, by utilizing Snapdragon sound on both sides of link, you'll see it on the phone, and you'll see it on the headsets or the earbuds or the speakers. The idea is that you're going to get the best connection, the best quality and the best latency. And I'll give you a demo a little while ago, and you were able to experience that firsthand yourself. You're able to walk around the first floor here in our at our corporate headquarters, not lose a connection, not get the glitchy audio and the dropouts that most would expect. And I think you came away impressed what was possible.
Steve Statler 09:03
Yeah, I was. And it's funny how our behavior and lifestyles have shifted. I now spend a lot of time with my head headset in. Because it's a it's a lot more comfortable and be I'm just being conditioned to hear alerts. And also my wife hates my taste in podcasts. So I have to keep that geeky political stuff myself. Because just depress it. So I have to keep them on but then I'm walking around the house and when it drops out, it's kind of annoying. So so how do you how do you get those benefits? How do you How can I take a Bluetooth audio connection and make it more robust?
Mike Canevaro 09:50
Sure. Well, look, I mean, I think, you know, Qualcomm has done a tremendous amount of work in this area to ensure wireless connectivity is is robust whether that's that's our Wi Fi products, whether that's our Bluetooth products in the spirit of Snapdragon sound and what we're talking about, we utilize something called Qualcomm high speed, which is our proprietary modulation scheme that allows us in conjunction with our scalable audio codec abtex. Adaptive, it allows us to actually monitor for lack of a better term kind of massage that link between a source and a sink device, and ensure that the needs of the device rather, both devices in that scenario are met. And when I say that, I mean, you know, you're in a, you're in a demo room, there's a lot of fun stuff in here, but there's a lot of RF and there's a lot of transmission here, there's a lot of noise in here, you may not have that much noise at home. Or if you're by house and the kids get 40 or 50 devices on the Wi Fi, there's a fair bit of noise. And so what we're able to do is actually adjust both the link and the audio codec correspondingly. So is the demo you saw gave you a nice lossless demo. And you were able to again, as I as I said earlier, experienced lossless over Bluetooth, at a full, you know, almost 1.3 megabits per second. And then you walked away. And you went for you went for a little walk with with the earbuds. And unbeknownst to you, the link was was working, the codec was working, it was scaling as needed, we needed to focus on range as opposed to audio quality. And so we make those trade offs between the devices. And that enabled you to walk a good distance around some elevator banks here downstairs and back in the room, and you didn't lose signal once, which means we kept a robust connection, which is important. So when you leave the room like you do at home, you're not losing the link and the audio codec scale from lossless to lossy and back into lossless and you you had no idea the audio quality didn't diminish in that scenario.
Steve Statler 11:47
So tell us what's happening in audio formats. I'm seeing lossless I'm seeing Atmos. Where is the industry progressing in terms of creating audio new audio formats? And? And how what do people have to do to make sure that they get the benefit of that?
Mike Canevaro 12:09
Well, first it people need to buy Snapdragon Sam branded product. So we'll start there, I would say over the years, and we'll talk about this in the context of Bluetooth. Over the years Bluetooth has gone from, you know, kind of the standard audio codec that you get with Bluetooth out of the box called SBC. And then they've gone to these alternative codecs. And our abtex codec was I gotta stop. What is a codec? Yeah, so a codec is, the simplest way to think about is, it's the container that carries the audio signal from point A to point B. So codecs have been around, you know, since the beginning of any sort of audio transmission. And there's different types of codecs. And they do different types of compression on the audio to get it from point A to point B, the best example I might give, and maybe again, I'm dating myself here is the mp3 player, you know, the mp3 player and the corresponding mp3 that we're all familiar with squeezed audio down tremendously. So you could get a gazillion songs on your, on your mp3 player back in the day. And that was really the first time that we, as consumers were, I think, knowingly exposed to audio compression. When you watch TV, or you listen to radio, there's audio compression involved, and it's always been, but realistically, the ability for us as consumers to consume content and little device that held more music than you could possibly imagine was all due to the audio codecs, being able to cross that audio, and then decompress that audio in a manner that was, I'll say, faithfully reproducing. The audio was
Steve Statler 13:42
listening to the history of the internet podcast, which is an amazing podcast all about, they were talking about the creation of the very first iPod and the only reason it was born was because firewire existed because it would take a day to sync a really small music collection over the current USB technology at the time. But now those connections is just so much faster. So it seems like we're not about how can I cram really horrible audio onto onto a very limited space the the capacity is huge. The pipe is huge. So it's about getting the quality to where you want it
Mike Canevaro 14:22
Yeah, like it's it's a unique you're right it's a unique situation that we've become accustomed to in the way that we consume music we can download you know, an episode of our favorite show on any of the you know, the stores or stream content virtually anywhere in the world. And you don't really think about it, it's it's there in an instant it's there in a minute the downloads happen really, really quick. And that's all great and it's in spatial or it's in Dolby Atmos or it's in the latest, uncompressed format. Amazon Music title, they stream high quality, high res audio music. But what happens when you want to send that musical are wireless link. So yes, consumers are becoming more aware of spatial audio and these other audio formats that we've talked about lossless audio is really you know, this, this is the this is the phase that we're in now, where high resolution audio we talked a bit. We might not say where audio files, but we like you mentioned Macintosh, we liked the higher quality, high resolution, I like to call it esoteric audio. But generally speaking most of the devices then compress the audio and send it over a wireless link. So you've paid for a subscription, you've paid for a service, you've decided to download the 4k version with Dolby Atmos, but the bluetooth headphones or earbuds that you purchased during COVID don't support it. And so what do you get, you get the lowest common denominator, which I'm here to say is bad quality, you might just get compressed audio that that you didn't know you were getting. So what we've done is we've raised the bar on audio quality over Bluetooth, we've been doing this since our inception, when we talked about the introduction of Bluetooth, and we talked about the introduction of audio codecs. But with Snapdragon sound, which has been around for two years, now, we are raising that bar, we first introduced high res audio. So you know 9624 lossy high res audio. Last year, we introduced lossless. So now we have the ability to actually take that lossless audio that you've paid for, or or maybe you've stored the content in your phone in a lossless format, and send it over the Bluetooth link in a lossless format.
Steve Statler 16:26
So it's still compressed, it's just the everything that goes in the pipe comes out the pipe, you know, throwing stuff away, and we're not squish it down. Yeah,
Mike Canevaro 16:34
I mean, you know, 1.3 megabits, you know, we can faithfully reproduce the, you know, the original audio content at 44 116 bit.
Steve Statler 16:44
So what's happening in the world of spatial audio? Is it catching on? Or is this gonna be like 3d television, which kind of was a big fad. And then everyone thought,
Mike Canevaro 16:54
I think we're in the early days, I mean, I think I think Dolby Atmos, I think Sony's reality audio 360. Di rack at some of these other these other formats that are out there, and Google supports it native Android 13. I think we're just in the early days of spatial and what's possible. It's content, I think, in some cases, I think is content specific, but there's so much content being created and mastered and prepared for spatial audio delivering again, you look at all the different content stores that are out there, whether it's just music or video as well. They're all producing and making available spatial content, we on the chip side, and on the blue side, we're making sure that that content can be faithfully reproduced in earbuds in headsets on speaker. So you know, the content is one part of the conversation. And it's I think it's always been this way back to Super Audio CD and DVD audio, it was a look at this great high resolution audio we can deliver, but you had to get it to the consumer to listen to. And I think we're in the early days of spatial audio today, and we're already seeing devices in the market support spatial. And it's really just come forward. You know, in the last year, we were one of the first companies to support spatial in the in the connectivity space. And now you're seeing devices run to market with the new Bluetooth standard le audio that supports spatial. And so now we're starting to see just the tip of the iceberg.
Steve Statler 18:21
So you got on to the new Bluetooth stack standard. So can you unpack that a little bit? So we've had Bluetooth low energy, that was the thing that gave birth to the Bluetooth beacon? What is what is Bluetooth Low Energy audio?
Mike Canevaro 18:37
Yeah, so So le audio is the next standard of Bluetooth, you know, again, inside baseball, we might refer to traditional Bluetooth that we're familiar with as as Bluetooth Classic or EDR with kind of the extension of that. Last year, the Bluetooth SIG, you know, the kind of the governing body. Within Bluetooth which is participated in by many of us tech companies, not not just Qualcomm, they launched the LE audio standard, which introduces a whole new capability of bandwidth use cases. We give you a demo one of those use cases called Aura cast broadcasts, which I'll come on to in a minute. And it's opening up an ability for as the name implies low energy, better power consumption and on small portable devices as battery technology has progressed the ability now to have the radio function in a manner that is drawing less current. But providing more features and functionality means that on a Snapdragon sound side we can take great advantage of that we can we can incorporate spatial audio, we can incorporate much higher throughput and much higher resolution audio that the audio files would would like dare I say, you know the guys who have the vacuum tube amps may never listen to bluetooth earphones but I would say you know, give this a chance. But one of those examples is is the aura cast broadcast standard and this is something that the SIG just come out with it's got some really, really dynamic use cases, it's the ability for if you're in an airport, and you've got multiple TVs, perhaps you speak Japanese. And you're here visiting, you can double tap and your buddy, you can pick up the Japanese feed of CNN. As an example, maybe it's, there's multiple TVs and you want to hear, you know, the warrior game, as opposed to CNN or whatever is playing on the other channel. With order cast broadcast, you can toggle through those channels with a tap of an earbud, you can pick up different kinds of broadcast streams, as we would say. And it's just an incredible use case that we're really just beginning to scratch the surface of multi language support is phenomenal. We just, we just did a great presentation with the Bluetooth SIG at Mobile World Congress back in February. And, and, and we did a multi language support. So we're delivering multiple languages to hundreds of people all at the same time. And people come in, they put your earbuds on and you pick up the language that you want to hear the stream at. And so that sort of capability wasn't possible with the standard Bluetooth Classic that we've all become accustomed to. So that's just one example of some of the new use cases. And it's broadcast.
Steve Statler 21:14
Right. It's, as opposed to that replacing the wire, which is the original Bluetooth mandates. It's something broader, literally,
Mike Canevaro 21:24
yeah, no, yeah, no pairing, you'd have to go through the process which some cases consumers fumble with, or the device, maybe the the the integration of the pairing mechanism. And we're all working on ways to do that proximity pairing and other things that you can do. But the LE audio or the the orcas broadcast is just that it is a broadcast that your earbuds can pick up and and you choose what you want to listen to. So in a museum and a sports bar or at a ballgame, even at home with kids, you know, maybe they want to watch it listen to something different. You have the ability to do that by integrating that capability.
Steve Statler 21:56
I went to a concert a few months ago, it was Joshua Tree National Park. And this guy had shipped a Steinway grand piano into the middle of the park, and he played this concert, and everyone put on their headphones, silent disco. And they were where you were like climbing up the rocks. And it was just an amazing experience. Yeah,
Mike Canevaro 22:17
it's a great again, it's another use case, I think, like we've even done a silent disco in a cellar as you come in everybody, hundreds of people put headphones on and you listen to what you want. And it's right. It's quite an interesting use case. But it's just one of I think many you got quality, better power consumption and enhanced use cases that the new the nuclear standard will bring.
Steve Statler 22:38
And the power consumption is irrelevant, isn't it in the area where we're in offices, and we're doing conference calls, and you got to last all day, then look power.
Mike Canevaro 22:48
I mean, like it's interesting, I think this period of time that we've just come out of this COVID period, it drove new use cases for for wearable audio. And I think you know, when we first started working from home, we we took the standard headset that came with our PC or the IT department gave you and that's what you listened to. And maybe you were wired all the time and you had to unplug it to go get a cup of coffee, but you were on that headset all the time. I think the use cases that we've seen have changed as and yes it is we've emerged and people are coming back to work like like we here at Qualcomm are but use cases chant, people began to realize that they can spend a couple $100 on a really nice quality headset, they can use that headset with teams, they can take that headset with them on the go. Power consumption to your point you're on teams calls for four or five, six hours a day just to stay in touch with your colleagues or your customers. And you can wear that and the longevity of those devices nowadays is quite impressive.
Steve Statler 23:43
So just a double click on the technology at a physical level I'm looking for Snapdragon sound and what am I actually going to how's that going to manifest itself in terms of the chips in the in the in the device
Mike Canevaro 24:01
or so Snapdragon sound is a technology has been supported on all of our premium phone and what I'll say peripheral headset here but chipsets for about the last two two and a half years. We are working hard to expand to other areas where Qualcomm plays a part that's automotive that's compute that's that's our XR products. Gaming handle gaming and beyond in fact, the the razor edge the razor gaming handheld, it's that sold to Verizon today support Snapdragon sound. And so you see that it's just an example of the way that we've expanded, you know, really these high quality audio KPIs, these low latency KPIs outside of just a mobile phone and earbuds and so it will manifest itself across all of our platforms. Consumers will see it on Android. You'll see a notification pop up when you pair with a Snapdragon device or a Snapdragon sound device. So if you're, you know your Motorola edge or your Sony Xperia phone have snapdragons sound, which they do. And you pair it with an earbud from Master Dynamic or from, you know from other brands, you'll you'll get that Snapdragon sound logo and you're know you're getting the premium audio experience. So I think that's just one way. Interestingly, when we started this, this ecosystem to really drive high quality audio and audio experiences into the market, what I think surprised us and in one way was just how many brands wanted to be part of this. We've just recently passed the century mark, we've got over 101 devices out of the market that supports Snapdragon sound, from tablets, to phones, to earbuds to Bluetooth vinyl players, there are so many great devices in the market that support it. And the thing that's unique about that is the logos on the box, the logos on the UI, the logo is is a is a pop up notification, and Android. And that just speaks to how these brands want to be part of a premium audio ecosystem. And so we've really worked hand in hand with those brands to make sure that consumers are aware that this technology is there. And you go both ways. We did get both are thrilled about that. And as I said to you earlier, and on a personal level, it's been a great victory they've been, you know, they've been a target of mine personally, in terms of technology. For many, many years. Bose has been a great partner of ours for a long, long time. And so to see them in the Snapdragon sound ecosystem is just incredible, not just not just for us, but for consumers who, you know, Bose is synonymous with audio quality, I think when you you really think about headphones and earbuds, certainly in North America. Bose is the first brand that comes from it. So we're thrilled to have them in the stable, so to speak. But you know, the beautiful part about what we're building in this ecosystem is I said, I just picked up the new Sony Xperia phone, I'm going to pair him with my Bose earbuds and I know I'm gonna get that experience that great premium audio experience. It doesn't have to be Sony and Sony or the you know, bows and bows or whatever the case.
Steve Statler 27:01
And I think like they're a nonprofit, like Bose, actually a nonprofit.
Mike Canevaro 27:06
I that I don't know. But I would say I think they make a lot of money.
Steve Statler 27:10
But my understanding is that they donate all their profits to academic institutions. So wanted to follow up. The saw I'm interested in what you're seeing in cars is that like, if we were to characterize where Qualcomm super strong with, with audio and a growth market is, is like, Is the car a growth area?
Mike Canevaro 27:36
Like I think the car I mean, for anyone who has followed Qualcomm these last few years, I think you realize just how critical Qualcomm is in that space. Broadly speaking, our our digital chassis or digital cockpit capabilities, control things from entertainment, to safety to autonomous driving. So you know, the car, if you think about it, is where maybe second to sleeping at night where we spend a lot of our time, at least many of us do. And so you know, the car is just forged tremendous opportunities for us. And then, of course, the expansion of autonomous and Evie that that just drives even more capability. But what's interesting to me about it if I could be selfish when I think about Snapdragon sound is consuming entertainment in the car. You know, it has started in been primarily over the years audio, you get in you pair your phone, and you listen to your favorite playlist, you and I were talking about being in a Tesla as an example and having Netflix streaming while you're parked, of course, but the ability to watch Netflix while you're sitting in a parking lot waiting for your wife or stuck at a ballgame, or whatever the case may be, you know, to me, the car becomes a brilliant, confined experience for premium premium entertainment. And I think you're seeing that more and more and so for us, I think that is that is definitely one of the next one of the next areas that we're going to be you know, really leaning forward in in the car and we're starting to see that already. We've got you know, a small stable of of brands that are have been really supportive and that we'll be able to talk about later but I would say for us, you know, phones, earbuds those make a lot of sense. I think I think these other places where we where we consume content, automotive is tops there.
Steve Statler 29:18
And so do you think wireless can stand up to the audio quality versus the bit of wire that the people with the valve amps and everything use Are we there yet,
Mike Canevaro 29:28
look, I may not be able to hear at the highest frequencies anymore that I'm that I once did. But I will tell you some of the latest and I'm not going to name any because I don't want to pick favorites. But certainly some of the latest audio products that have come out whether they're true wireless earbuds or full cans. I would I would stack them against any wired device today. The quality of the technology the fit the finish, and then of course you know just the wireless audio. I have to tell you I am an audio guy I'd love I know evolved in audio for almost my entire career. And I don't think there's ever been a point in time that I've been more excited about the audio technologies, the wireless audio technologies that are available today. One thing that amazes
Steve Statler 30:10
me is that you can be wearing in ear devices or over ear devices, and how can that be surround sound? How can you do that? And I,
Mike Canevaro 30:21
you know, it's interesting. And again, we chatted a little bit about this earlier. Have you been around audio for a long time? Dolby Pro Logic and Dolby Pro Logic two and, you know, SRS trusurround, were around the idea that you could take two channel audio and up mix it to create a virtual surround experience, whether it was on DVD players or mp3 players, that, you know, those were the early days of virtual surrounding creating an experience larger than just inside those headphones. You know, we were doing things in the early days with psycho acoustics and understanding how the human head actually, here's another pennant works. And we can, you know, we can trick so to speak, we, you know, we can trick how the human hearing system works, you know, you fast forward to today. And as I said, you know, the technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, the content is now readily available and presented in 5.1 7.1 10.2. It's presented all the way down to the mobile phone, or to the big screen TV, or to the PC. So it's presented all the way down. Now, the ability to render that in a set or in a personal environment is where it's spatial audio, like we talked about is coming into play. So, you know, it's, it's been exciting to be a part of and see. And now to see headphone and other manufacturers really come out. The soundbar manufacturers and others come out and support those formats. It's bringing that I think more to the forefront for consumers.
Steve Statler 31:41
I follow a lot of music producers. And what I've noticed is as the basics of music production have been commoditized. They're moving up to surround sound, they're they're like boasting about their new mixing suite that is, is surround sound. And so I think we're actually going to get a lot more creativity. Yeah, there's good surround sound and bad surround sound. Would you agree?
Mike Canevaro 32:05
I would look, I think, I think the early days of surround sound of music were interesting. Because you had mixes that perhaps shouldn't have been released, in fact, at once around. And in other cases, you know, live concerts and those sorts of things, having the crowd around you as if you're standing at Coachella, and you're getting that same experience when you're watching, I think that makes absolute sense. Interestingly, we've recently tied up with the producers and engineering wing of the Grammys, the Recording Academy, and this has been a topic of conversation, how do we bring really faithfully reproduce what the artist what the mixer what the mastering engineer intended all the way through to the ear, and that conversation has been had for a long, long time, we're not the first ones to have that conversation. But with surround and with spatial, as you say, it's presenting a new frontier for these, you know, for these folks to, to work in to mix into master in. And, and when you do all that, and then that's lost, because it can't be delivered all the way to a wireless headset, or wireless speaker. I think that's where there's a lot more attention today than there was before. And so it's exciting.
Steve Statler 33:14
It is, and I've got a plug one of my favorite bands, everything but the girl then new album, first one after, like 20 years came out. And it was made during COVID. And they did it in surround sound, you can actually get the DVD. Or you can get the blu ray or you can get surround sound when you stream. And this is an example I think where real artists are thinking about this music and they're and they're planning their soundscape. And it's it's an incredible thing. So I think this feature is gonna get traction as artists really apply skill and artistry to it. So I love audio. This has been fascinating for me, thanks for the view inside I hope but people will hang around because we've got more to come. I never knew when we teed this up that you had all this history and indoor location and IoT, but you do. So that's what we're going to talk about next. And then of course, we're going to hear a bit about the music that you love. But thanks for the for the main course of our conversation. It's
Mike Canevaro 34:17
been great. Thanks so much.
Steve Statler 34:19
So Mike, we've been talking about Snapdragon sound, but you've got a very interesting history, which is super relevant to what we normally talk about in this show, which is kind of auto ID IoT, all of that sort of thing. How did you get to be doing this job? What's your story?
Mike Canevaro 34:40
Well, I rejoined Qualcomm about a year ago, after a seven year hiatus. During that time, I had an opportunity, spending some time at Qualcomm for some wrap up to to get exposure to what would have been kind of early days of location where platforms location based marketing platforms and because you were CSI was a Cambridge silicon radio, 3d acquisition by Qualcomm. And I've been in audio my whole career dating way back to SRS Labs, which was a spin out of Hughes Aircraft Systems and understanding how the humans here and taking models of the pen of the year and so I've been in audio pretty much my whole career and had some early exposure to you know, I guess what now we call the Internet of Things or location that we're platforms and thought, hey, that was something that was really interesting to me, and so left and what did the startup world and was another former Qualcomm calling, and we started the company, and it was initially focused on Bluetooth beacons, which we all thought, I think we're going to be everywhere at the time. And what was the name of the company company was called locally. And we initially started it as a very location based hardware platform centric company, we we really, is we built a company, we really began to understand a bit more about the data that you know, nowadays, data is oil, right, we really began to find out much more about the value of the data that came with that platform. So ultimately, we built a robust location data platform, and we went the advertising marketing route. And we, we did quite a bit of work with a lot of the big DMPS and DSPS in the advertising world.
Steve Statler 36:19
So what are those things that you just said, the MPs.
Mike Canevaro 36:23
So these are all the you know, the demand of the buying and the selling platforms within the advertising community. So utilizing that location based data to drive relevant ads, relevant content, those sorts of things, when we're consuming content, on mobile, or on the Internet, or wherever the case may be so so
Steve Statler 36:39
making sure that the ads that you see on your phone are relevant to where you actually are physically, if you're in the supermarket, or the sports stadium, or confectionery station,
Mike Canevaro 36:49
that was all about context. And we realized with that platform that we were able to do some really interesting things with with with contextual data, I exited that business to a company in Canada. And And interestingly, I kind of went back into audio again, I spent a couple of years with a company called Audio analytic out of Cambridge in the UK, and they did ambient ambient awareness. Really, if you think about your cameras nowadays at home, they have babies crying and glass breaking. And Ron's barking. Audio analytic was a real pioneer in ambient sound recognition.
Steve Statler 37:29
And why would we want to understand the meaning of the ambient sound around this?
Mike Canevaro 37:33
Well, in a personal scenario, your ring camera at home, your nest camera at home, mostly if you're away at work, and the camera picks up glass breaking in the house, and you know, nobody's there that can give me an intruder. And so you could trigger the camera to come on and, and, and show you, you know, the preview of the video. So really, what audio analytic was driving towards was an area where it was actually quite interesting, but it's an area where they could learn hundreds of 1000s, or millions of sounds and these LendLease in these learning models, coughing, sneezing, making recommendations based upon you know, you sneezing in the hole, or, you know, your baby's crying baby, it's a certain type of cry, maybe you might get a recommendation from amazon for a certain type of, of medicine or what happened.
Steve Statler 38:18
And so that this, what would be doing the listening that the cameras
Mike Canevaro 38:22
would, the cameras or the other, you know, home automation devices in the home that have microphones,
Steve Statler 38:27
so smart speakers and that sort of thing. Yeah, that's correct. And
Mike Canevaro 38:30
so I spent I spent about
Steve Statler 38:32
is that happening that light is if I'm sneezing then Alexa, my trying to sell me some cold medicine. Yeah, it's possible. I've definitely anecdotally that that happens. And
Mike Canevaro 38:44
I think I think the you know, some of the core safety and security pieces are well in place. You know, we pioneered some of that. And we work closely with ring in the early days before they were sold in Amazon and other companies as well. So getting some of that IP in that technology, those devices. So so we did that did that for a couple of years. And then was was recruited come back, come back to Qualcomm about a year ago. So I've been back in this role running the Snapdragon sound platform for about a year now.
Steve Statler 39:12
Very cool. And how did you how did you get that job at Qualcomm?
Mike Canevaro 39:18
Like I said, I mean, I, you know, I came aboard Qualcomm the first time through an acquisition, you know, like a lot of us do, and spent some time here. And as soon as I said, You know what, at the time when the acquisition went through, I was helping to build at CSR, kind of a fledgling early days IoT services platform, and that really piqued my interest. And so, as I said, I went off and I did that in the entrepreneurial world. And then my former, one of my former business partners, had been here for about 23 years. And he called and said, Hey, I think I'm finally going to step aside. Okay, we're building the sound platform and you know, would you be interested in coming back and, and running it so
Steve Statler 39:59
very cool. Uh, well, it seems very appropriate. Our tradition of asking our guests for three songs we've been talking about sound and fidelity and music. So what are your free songs?
Mike Canevaro 40:13
And that's a, that's a great question. I, you know, music for me is has been an important part of my life. And you know, we've talked about this, but I think it you know, you recall milestones or events or certain periods in your life, I think because we all do, and I know that it's so much a song, but there are certain bands or artists that that resonates so well with me throughout periods of my life and my dad was was really, really heavy into music. And in the early days, I mean, as a kid, people probably laugh, but I would listen to Neil sadaqa with my dad, you're really dating myself here. As I got older, you know, there's a period of time where I started going to concerts and the first two concerts I saw were New Kids on the Block again, we'll get a chuckle. And, and Brian Adams, apparently Canadian singer, and then, you know, as my musical tastes have grown and expanded. Currently, I'm listening to a lot of a lot of blues and bluegrass and even country so Tyler Childers is probably top of the playlist right now. And Chris Stapleton mixed in there as well. He's He's fantastic.
Steve Statler 41:14
Very good. Well, Mike, thanks very much for doing the show. It's been a real pleasure.
Mike Canevaro 41:17
It was great to great bigger I appreciate the opportunity. Very good. Thanks so much.
Steve Statler 41:23
So that was the conversation with Mike Cannavaro of Qualcomm. Hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please do like us, recommend us. It's the thing that will help the podcast get visibility with new listeners. Thanks very much for listening to us and see you next time.