Big ideas that can change the world can come from anywhere. And when one comes from an unexpected place within the Qualcomm community, we stop and listen. In this case, we listened to the idea of a new way to experience sound that one of our employees was excited about. He was not an engineer and didn’t have a background in audio. And, he wasn’t looking to invent something. He was a passionate audiophile who decided to act on an “aha!” moment—one that would bring sound to a whole new level.
Robert Dessert, one of our Retail Product Managers and a lifelong lover of quality sound, had a groundbreaking idea: why not put dynamic, 3D surround-sound on mobile devices, matching audio quality with the superior video quality already available, to create a completely immersive entertainment experience? Robert decided to put his ideas into action through an internal employee program that would help him bring his idea to life, and eventually transform that idea into a commercial product on the mobile market.
— Robert Dessert, Senior Product Manager, Qualcomm Labs, Inc.
A team of engineers was put together to transform Robert’s vision into reality. The dream team consisted of an algorithms expert, a head tracking expert, an Android developer and an audio expert who would serve as the project’s technical lead and sponsor. Each member could help bring the technology, then known as dynamic audiosphere, to potential commercialization.
The magic of Immersive Audio, from Qualcomm Technologies Inc., is in the isolation of sound going into each ear. This enables the listener to hear sound from every angle, as if from multiple “phantom” speakers, even though it is actually sourced from two front-facing speakers—without the use of headphones. Algorithmic isolation presents each ear with different streams of sound, canceling out crosstalk (which is when the same sound goes into both ears at the same time, reducing spatial quality).
Immersive Audio draws out and processes the “stage center” of the sound image, transforming audio into sharp, yet immersive surround-sound. So, whether you’re rocking out to music, watching action movies, or playing your favorite game, Immersive Audio greatly enhances the quality of your entire mobile entertainment experience.
Robert and his engineering team worked around the clock to create a demo of the technology that would wow a group of Qualcomm executives, including Paul Jacobs—and their hard work paid off. Notably impressed, Jacobs directed the team to present the demo to Peter Chou, the then CEO of HTC. Immediately, Chou knew the right place for Immersive Audio was in the HTC One M9, the new mobile device launched in early 2015. “We want this on our flagship device next year,” said Chou, at the time.
Backed by the full support of Qualcomm and HTC, Robert and an even more robust engineering team continued working day and night to ready Immersive Audio for launch in the HTC One M9. Powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 810 processor from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., this technology could advance mobile entertainment and gaming to an entirely new territory. The complete creation process happened fast—from ideation, to review, to prototyping, to a fully functional product in just eight months.
Incubating ideas, no matter where they come from, is part of our DNA. Our employees are helping to shape the future—offering solutions to your needs before your needs even surface. It’s how we’re inventing today, and imagining tomorrow.