Revolutionizing Wireless Audio: Qualcomm's XPAN Wi-Fi Chips
Qualcomm, a leading chip manufacturer, has introduced their latest chips for wireless earbuds and headphones that have the ability to connect over standard Wi-Fi in addition to Bluetooth. This breakthrough technology, known as XPAN (expanded personal area network), has the potential to significantly extend Bluetooth's wireless range and enable playback of lossless hi-res audio.
Traditionally, Wi-Fi has been power-hungry and not suitable for wireless earbuds due to the need for larger batteries. However, Qualcomm's XPAN Wi-Fi is power-efficient, allowing wireless earbuds to stream 96kHz lossless audio for 10 hours using the same size battery that previously could only run Bluetooth audio at 48kHz for the same period of time.
In addition to providing a wider bandwidth for better audio quality, Wi-Fi connectivity in earbuds and headphones has the potential to improve wireless range, as Bluetooth has limitations in terms of distance and penetration through obstacles. With XPAN, earbuds and headphones can seamlessly switch from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi as the Bluetooth range is reached, ensuring uninterrupted music listening and improved call quality.
XPAN works with Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6, and 6E networks on 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands, allowing users to roam anywhere covered by their office Wi-Fi network. The 29 Mbps bandwidth of XPAN is almost 30 times larger than Bluetooth, enabling 24-bit/192 kHz lossless music streaming and even supporting up to 16 channels of Dolby True HD, including Dolby Atmos.
Currently, the XPAN technology is only available on Qualcomm's S7 Pro Gen platform, which requires pairing with a Snapdragon Sound device. However, there are plans to expand its use to Bluetooth wireless speakers, enabling access to Wi-Fi music streams without the need for a Snapdragon Sound device.
The S7 Pro Gen platform also includes other enhancements, such as increased AI capabilities and overall compute power. Qualcomm claims that the onboard AI capabilities of these chips have been increased 100-fold compared to its previous generation, opening up possibilities for companies to create innovative audio-based experiences.
With Qualcomm's XPAN Wi-Fi chips, wireless audio devices are set to revolutionize the industry, offering extended range, improved audio quality, and new possibilities for audio-based experiences. The first products using this technology are expected to be available by the end of 2023.