Sitting on the subway, I had a flashback to an event called Infocomm that brings out a lot of industrial speaker makers. These are the types of speakers used in public buildings and transportation, stadiums, and non-entertainment venues. The application is typically as public address systems.
The common elements of these systems are that they’re loud, often muffled, and produce low fidelity sound. The speakers in these system are often poorly placed, causing an echo when announcements are played through.
This is another low hanging fruit opportunity for PA system makers. The embedding of microphones in these systems to tune and balance the audio can feed into newer controllers that are much more advanced than the amplifiers from when PA technology first became available.
Other technology that’s been around for awhile but still needs to hit mainstream is audio spotlights. These can focus sound to a narrow band and prevent noise from bleeding over to other areas of the environment.
Improving the ability to hear speakers in public environments is the first step to a ubiquitous and ambient voice interaction. The only way we’ll be able to ditch our phones is if we can reliably communicate with the environment around us.