NXP’s MiGLO; tech to build ‘smartest consumer wireless earbuds’

January 02, 2017 // By Graham Prophet
NXP Semiconductors (in the process of being acquired by Qualcomm) has disclosed the brand identity MiGLO for its platform that enables a new generation of ‘hearable’ products. Target products are small and comfortable earbuds that are wireless and that will offer long battery life, high audio quality and reliable operation.

 

The announcement, timed for the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, develops on those the company made a year ago, at the 2016 CES and Mobile World Congress. At that time, NXP showed use of Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) technology in a completely wireless earbud, supporting wireless audio streaming from ear to ear, using its NxH2280 NFMI based radio transceiver. There is an obvious attraction of eliminating wires from in-hear transducers for both medical (hearing-aid) and entertainment products. As NXP pointed out, “truly wireless earbuds would provide substantially increased user comfort for sport activities, but in general in all situations where wires are undesired and annoying to users.” More recently, (September 2016) NXP and Chinese company Cannice announced a production-ready reference design for wireless earbuds.

 

Sending a stereo audio stream towards two distinct earbuds is not possible with existing 2.4GHz technology, NXP asserts. A standard Bluetooth A2DP profile, which supports only point-to-point connections, does not support this use case. Forwarding a high quality audio stream from one ear to the other using reasonable power levels is difficult using 2.4 GHz technology because most of the signal is absorbed by the human body tissue. To this problem, NXP applied Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI), with ultra-low power consumption and the ability to create a very reliable network in and around the human body. High-quality audio and data streaming can be supported over small distances (< 1m). An additional integration advantage is also that it requires few external components. NFMI is a short range technology and as such also creates a private network, making it is less susceptible to interference than 2.4 GHz transceivers.

 

NXH2280 is NXP's second generation fully integrated single-chip NFMI radio transceiver. Operating from a 1V supply, it consumes 1.5 mW when audio is streamed in a truly wireless earbud application. The chip supports a maximum bitrate of 596kbps, and can be configured to operate either stand-alone