Paris-based Tempow wants to transform your smart speaker experience with a suite of Bluetooth audio profiles it’s calling TAP Smart. With TAP Smart, announced today at IFA 2018 in Berlin, manufacturers can add advanced wireless features to smart devices powered by Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant.
The first to take advantage of this is Keecker, the startup behind an eponymous voice-activated home robot. Keecker runs Google’s Android TV operating system (with access to the Google Play Store) and taps Amazon’s Alexa Voice Services for voice control and access to tens of thousands of third-party apps.
“Right now, hardware manufacturers are locked into using a single chipset, usually TrueWireless from Qualcomm, if they want to create a complete Bluetooth sound system linked together through the device, rather than the smartphone,” Tempow founder and CEO Vincent Nallatamby said in a statement. “We want to unlock that capability for any speaker manufacturer with little software development on their side, while allowing them to choose their own internal hardware.”
TAP Smart offers flexibility in design, Nallatamby explained, giving OEMs the freedom to add new features to any Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-equipped speaker without the need to make hardware modifications. One of those features — Smart Surround Sound — lets users chain multiple speakers together to create 5.1 or 3.1 speaker systems. Another, mesh networking, leverages multiple devices for voice detection. (Like Amazon’s Spatial Perception feature, it automatically determines which device is closest to the person speaking.)
“Our mission is to develop innovative software that every hardware manufacturer can leverage to bring new experiences to the end user,” Nallatamby said.
Tempow’s principal work concerns Bluetooth headphones and speakers — its proprietary “layer” allows multiple devices to connect at the same time. It has hardware partnerships in place with Motorola, which embedded its technology in the operating system on the Moto X smartphone, and other undisclosed device makers. (Tempow plans to bring its tech to at least two more phones by 2019.)
In July, Tempow previewed a solution for televisions and set-top boxes, which it said can bring customized EQ, multilanguage support, and more to existing devices. It’s optimized for low-latency, and, like the forthcoming TAP for smart speakers, lets users connect multiple devices to create a DIY surround sound system.
Following a small angel round, Tempow recently closed a $4 million funding round led by Balderton Capital, with participation from C4 Ventures. The company said it now plans to double the size of its 12-person Bluetooth engineering team over the next year.