Promoting itself to a European audience at ISE was the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association. Founded as recently as December 2011, WiSA (pronounced “why-sa”) exists to advance the adoption of wirelessly transmitted high-definition (HD) surround sound audio in the home theatre environment.
WiSA has established the industry’s first interoperability specification and certification testing programmes for manufacturers of high-performance wireless speakers, DTVs, Blu-ray Disc players, and other consumer electronics (CE) devices. Within less than two months, it has attracted high profile industry names such as Klipsch, Pioneer, Polk Audio and Sharp to become advisory board members.
“The background to the formation of WiSA is that, as TVs become flatter, sound quality is almost inevitably impaired, and consumers are looking to external sound,” said Jim Venable, WiSA’s president. “They don’t want to run cable everywhere – but many have had a bad experience with wireless audio. We want to promote a standard that will restore their confidence, as well as one that is guaranteed to be interoperable.”
Initially, the WiSA Association’s interoperability testing and certification programme will be aimed at products offering interference-free, uncompressed HD audio over the 5 GHz Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) frequency band. This is a portion of the spectrum that is largely unused compared to the lower-frequency Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) radio bands, which are becoming increasingly crowded with signals from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices, cordless phones and other radio emitters in the home. By operating in the U-NII spectrum, WiSA-certified products will be designed to avoid the interference, signal loss and generally unpredictable behaviour reported by many users of legacy wireless speaker connections.