SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Michael Finneran
Michael F. Finneran, is President of dBrn Associates, Inc., a full service advisory firm specializing in wireless and mobility; services...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Michael Finneran | January 25, 2012 |

 
   

Dolby Demos an "Ear Opening" Technology for Audio Conferencing

Dolby Demos an "Ear Opening" Technology for Audio Conferencing What will sell this is the recognition that better sound means better and more productive conferences.

What will sell this is the recognition that better sound means better and more productive conferences.

Much has been written about the wonders of high-definition telepresence systems for video teleconferencing, but the vast majority of the working world spends far more time on audio conferences than they do on video conferences. Unfortunately, with the exception of marginally better conference phones and wideband audio, no one has done much to inch the sound quality for audio conferencing above what we’ve had on the public telephone network for the past hundred years.

Wideband codecs like G.722 can increase the audio bandwidth (i.e. the range of frequencies reproduced), but that does nothing to address problems like noisy drops, uneven sound levels, or background noise that do so much to make many audio conferences an experience in frustration. For organizations that increasingly depend on audio conferences a key part of doing business, you're not boosting productivity when users are so isolated they turn on speakerphone, mute the microphone, and pick up the Wall Street Journal.

Enter Dolby Laboratories, who is now using their pioneering audio technology to deliver a type of audio conferencing the likes of which you have never heard. At IBM’s Lotusphere in Orlando, Dolby offered analysts a demonstration of an as yet "unnamed" technology called simply the "Dolby audio conferencing solution", and the difference was striking.

While virtually everyone has heard of Dolby and knows they have something to do with high quality sound, understanding is a little cloudy beyond that. The Dolby logo appears at the end of every movie you see and on the bottom of every home stereo, game player, and mobile electronic device you buy that is capable of producing sound.

The key to Dolby's business is that they do not make consumer products, but rather they license their technology to the people who capture and reproduce the sound (that's why there’s a Dolby logo on your iPad). That technology was first adopted in the recording and motion picture industries, but has now been adopted in the gaming industry as well. Dolby's first product was Type A Dolby Noise Reduction, a compandor designed to eliminate the "hiss" in audio tape recording. Their real growth came with technology to improve the audio quality of motion pictures; Stanley Kubrick’s "A Clockwork Orange" was the first movie produced with Dolby sound.

According to Dr. Mike Hollier, Vice President-Voice Platforms for Dolby, the Dolby audio conferencing solution is made up of a conferencing server and a softphone client that can run on either a Windows or a Mac PC. While Dolby doesn’t describe it this way, the four major enhancements they can be categorized as:

* Wideband, Natural-Sounding Codec
* Ambient/Channel Induced Noise Cancellation
* Automatic Level-Adjusting Full Duplex Audio Bridging
* Spatial Sound Environment

Let's take a look at what's involved in each of these.

Wideband Natural-Sounding Codec
Anyone who has studied the physics of the telephone network will know that it was a design based on compromise. The human ear can detect frequencies in the range of 20 Hz-20,000 Hz, yet to maximize the number of "acceptable quality" channels they could carry, a traditional G.711 telephone codec filters out the frequencies above about 3100 Hz. Newer wideband codecs like G.722 capture and reproduce frequencies up to about 7,000 Hertz. Both of these codec standards require a 64 Kbps digital channel, though the wideband G.722.2 Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband (AMR-WB) standard can get that bit rate down as low as 16 Kbps.

Dolby's codec reproduces natural-sounding human speech at frequencies up to around 8,000 Hertz with a bit rate around 40 Kbps with the ability to go higher if needed.

Ambient/Channel Induced Noise Cancellation
Nothing is more tedious on an audio conference than a noisy drop or a participant who is calling in from a noisy location. In the Dolby solution, the bridge that mixes the audio streams together can detect and cancel either channel noise or ambient noise at any location. In the demo, one of the participants was seated next to a TV set that was blaring the Giants-Packers football game, and none of that background noise could be heard by any of the other users.





COMMENTS



July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.