Ceva acquires VisiSonics spatial audio business

  • May 17, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Semiconductor firm Ceva has acquired the spatial audio business from VisiSonics to expand its application software for hearables and other consumer IoT markets.

Ceva is a licensor of wireless connectivity, smart sensing technologies and custom SoCs. It has acquired the RealSpace 3D spatial audio business, technology and patents from VisiSonics.

Based in Maryland, close to Ceva’s sensor fusion R&D development centre, the VisiSonics spatial audio R&D team and software extend the company’s application software portfolio for embedded systems, bolstering Ceva’s market position in hearables, where spatial audio is fast becoming a must-have feature.

Spatial audio should also drive innovation in many other markets, including gaming, AR, VR, audio conferencing, healthcare, automotive and media entertainment. Future Market Insights estimates the market for 3D audio will quadruple from 2022 to 2032, reaching nearly $31.9bn in 2032.

“The acquisition of the VisiSonics’ spatial audio software and business builds on an already strong relationship and allows us to better serve OEMs who wish to enhance the audio experience of their products with best-in-class immersive spatial audio with such world-class providers as THX,” said Amir Panush, CEO of Ceva. “The software is market-proven with industry leaders in gaming and hearables and presents us with an opportunity to expand our customer base by delivering on the true potential of this technology, including entry into the burgeoning consumer IoT and automotive markets.”

RealSpace spatial audio rendering software provides an accurate digital simulation of real-life, immersive sound. Its proprietary algorithms create a realistic aural experience through as little as two-channel stereo audio while supporting multi-channel and ambisonics, a full sphere surround-sound format.

With dynamic head tracking enabled, the RealSpace user experience is more immersive, as the sound sources are held stationary while the user’s head is moving, simulating listening experiences in the real world. This allows the user to experience theatre-like sound through headphones or earbuds when watching movies, playing video games or listening to music, podcasts or conference calls.

By integrating VisiSonics’ spatial audio software with Ceva’s MotionEngine sensor fusion software, RealSpace provides complete spatial audio with dynamic head tracking. This combination can be implemented directly on headphones or earbuds, as it is available as an embedded library for use on wireless audio SoCs, and is already ported to DSPs and Arm Cortex-M class MCUs.

This gives OEMs and semiconductor companies a seamless way of incorporating high-performance spatial audio with precise head tracking in their products, with low power and system requirements.

“For more than a decade, we have pushed the boundaries of innovation in the areas of capture, rendering and personalising spatial audio to create our spatial audio software,” said Ramani Duraiswami, chief executive officer of VisiSonics. “Now, as spatial audio is set to become mainstream, Ceva is the right company to take our technology forward and fully exploit its potential through their global presence and synergistic technologies, and with key partners like THX.”

VisiSonics’ partner THX, an audio and video certification and technology company, has used this technology in its tools for game developers and music producers, and in audio personalisation for headset manufacturers. Also, Ceva and VisiSonics collaborated to bring the complete RealSpace spatial audio to Indian hearable and wearables company Boat, as it announced its first spatial audio headphones with dynamic head tracking – Boat Nirvana Eutopia – earlier this year.

“We have enjoyed a successful relationship with the VisiSonics 3D spatial audio team, incorporating their leading-edge software into our spatial audio for gaming, music and hearables,” said Jason Fiber, CEO of THX. “Ceva is an ideal company to work with THX to take spatial audio to the next level given its synergistic voice, audio and sensor fusion and embedded systems expertise.”