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Qualcomm Buys SoftMax To Reduce Noise On Mobile Phones

SoftMax makes voice algorithms for signal separation, echo cancellation, and signal processing for mobile devices.

Chipmaker Qualcomm on Monday said it acquired SoftMax, a privately-held company that specializes in noise reduction for mobile devices.

SoftMax makes voice algorithms for signal separation, echo cancellation, and signal processing, enabling mobile devices to separate a person's voice from background noises. The company's technology has been implemented by leading mobile phone and Bluetooth equipment manufacturers.

Earlier this year, another chipmaker Broadcom began offering SoftMax's noise reduction technology on its BCM2047 Bluetooth headset platform. Manufacturers can use the Broadcom platform to create headsets with dual microphone noise cancellation and echo suppression.

The potential of improving voice quality on mobile devices is what attracted Qualcomm to SoftMax. Qualcomm said it's interested in incorporating SoftMax's multi-microphone noise suppression and echo cancellation technology into a variety of devices, such as mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, voice over IP phones, and notebook computers.

"The acquisition of SoftMax will allow new opportunities for our customers to differentiate themselves by providing a superior level of voice quality to end users," said Sanjay Jha, chief operating officer of Qualcomm and president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, in a statement.

Noise reduction on mobile phones isn't an entirely new concept. Motorola has been offering low-end and high-end phone models with its CrystalTalk technology, which adjusts audio for clearer calls in noisy environments.

Motorola in October introduced the Moto U9 music phone, the 18K gold-plated Razr 2 V8 Luxury Edition, and Motorola W Series handsets, including the W156, W160, W175, W180, W206, W213 -- all with built-in CrystalTalk technology.

Motorola said CrystalTalk can be integrated into its UMTS and GSM handsets and it's being developed for CDMA handsets.

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