Every once and a while I come across a new technology that gets me excited. Today I came across something that’s been around for a couple of years but has yet to get much attention. It’s a new wireless audio protocol called “SKAA” that claims to have better range and audio quality than it’s predecessor Bluetooth which was introduced in 1989. Skaa is patented by a Canadian company that goes by the name Eleven Engineering Incorporated and it’s features include the following:
- No pairing is required—switching between transmitters is done with a single click
- It can support 4 speakers/headphones per transmitter
- A range of about 98 feet (30 meters)
- SKAA automatically maintains a list of the user’s favorite transmitters and provides a one-click way to switch between them. Exploring new, unknown transmitters is accomplished with a double click.
- SKAA introduces much less latency into the audio than does Bluetooth. This means that SKAA can be used to listen to audio while watching a movie or TV show on an iPod/ iPhone/iPad, for example. It can also be used to play games.
- SKAA employs a patented wireless protocol, Walking Frequency Diversity™ (WFD), to avoid conflicts with other wireless devices. This enables SKAA to deliver audio free of clicks, pops and dropouts.
- Receivers such as speakers or headphones can be “clustered” to create multi-room or whole-house audio systems much like AirPlay, Sonos, Denon Heos, and Chromecast devices can.
One of the things I’m still curious about is whether this technology can be used for a two-way conversation… As a replacement for bluetooth headsets. One of bluetooth’s weaknesses is it’s reliance on profile switching. For example, if you’ve ever wondered why when you take a call with a bluetooth device the sound quality drops considerably when compared to listening to music; You’ve noticed bluetooth switching from the A2DP profile (stereo audio) to the HSP profile (mono audio). Bluetooth devices do this because extra bandwidth is required to recieve AND transmit audio in both directions. When you’re just listening to music, all of the bandwidth can be dedicated to receiving better quality audio. Having a good headset for digital communication is an important part of my job so if SKAA can do this better than Bluetooth that would be a pretty big deal in my book.
The main downside to SKAA right now is it’s lack of market share and the fact that it’s not yet seamlessly integrated into devices like bluetooth is. If you want to be an early adopter and use SKAA, you have to get USB/lightning dongles for all of your devices and your selection of speakers/headphones is still quite limited.
I’m happy to see some healthy competition for bluetooth and I’m excited to see where new advances in areas like this will lead.
Below are a few links to devices that support SKAA: