Qualcomm buys noise-reduction company

Qualcomm has acquired SoftMax, a noise-reduction technology vendor.

Qualcomm made a clear statement about its vision for future mobile devices on Monday by buying SoftMax, a provider of noise-reduction algorithms.

SoftMax's technology works with multiple microphones to suppress background noise, separate the speaker's voice from that noise and cancel echoes, all to make voice calls more intelligible. The battle for better sound was stepped up recently when Motorola delivered a system called CrystalTalk, with a similar aim, in its Razr2 line of phones.

The SoftMax Signal Separation technology broadens Qualcomm's toolset for devices including mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, voice over Internet Protocol phones and notebooks, according to a company statement. It consumes less battery life, processing power and memory than alternatives, the company said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Qualcomm was not immediately able to provide more details of its plans for SoftMax.

SoftMax already has deals with mobile operator SK Telecom and with communications chip maker Broadcom, which is embroiled in a fierce legal battle with Qualcomm over various patents. Qualcomm may have acquired SoftMax as much for its engineers and intellectual property as for its current products, said analyst Will Strauss of Forward Concepts.

Similarly, Qualcomm acquired wireless broadband vendor Flarion last year just for its team and OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiplex access) technology, Strauss said. That company's intellectual property is expected to be valuable as OFDMA technologies including WiMax and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) become widely adopted. In addition, it would have been hard to simply recruit top-notch talent in a field as obscure as noise reduction, Strauss said. Qualcomm is probably looking both to integrate SoftMax's algorithms in its own single-chip systems for devices and to license them to other hardware vendors, Strauss said.

Privately held SoftMax is based in Qualcomm's hometown of San Diego and was founded in 1998 by scientists from The Salk Institute and from the University of California at San Diego, where Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs is a former professor and endowed the Jacobs School of Engineering in 1997.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?