Home entertainment network startup, Blackfire Research, introduced Monday its Blackfire RED real-time entertainment distribution framework, billed as the industry’s only wireless entertainment-centric infrastructure software framework designed to overcome the limitations of using in-home Wi-Fi media applications.

Blackfire designed Blackfire RED wireless applications and products for real-time Wi-Fi exchanges of entertainment content between disparate devices running a common framework designed to work reliably with multiple audio and video streams. It offers a range of features to assist multiple entertainment products to distribute video and audio throughout the home.

Read more about the Blackfire RED platform launch after they jump:

Blackfire RED is designed to dispense with what the company calls “islands” of incompatible media devices to create a truly Smart Home where digital content can be accessed and used wirelessly, synchronously and seamlessly. The solution requires relaying a wide range of files and formats including multichannel 5.1 audio and multiple 4K Ultra HD video streams to multiple devices over standard Wi-Fi.

Blackfire currently licenses its technology for multiroom music streaming and other applications to popular audio brands including, Harman Kardon, Onkyo, Pioneer, and Integra. It has over 4 million devices shipped.

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Products currently shipping with the Blackfire RED framework include:

  • A software engine that is network-, chipset- and operating- system agnostic for easy integration;
  • A communication protocol enabling Blackfire RED products to talk to each other over a standard network stack to work around interference obstacles to achieving a consistent high-speed connection;
  • A programming interface that facilitates real-time distribution and handling of entertainment content between products.

“We can get almost anything we want over the internet today, but the home is still pretty much stranded with islands of entertainment content,” Ravi Rajapakse, founder and CEO, Blackfire Research, told HD Guru. “For example, the smart TV is a great entertainment device that brings all the content you can want from the cloud to the TV, but that TV is separate from the stereo system, and the stereo system is separate from two speakers you might have, and the speakers are unrelated to the PC which is another island, and you have all of these islands of content that are trapped. You should be able to play music on your smart TV throughout your home or play a movie from your DVD player in the living room to the kid’s bedroom, and play music from your PC on your stereo system.”

Rajapakse said he intends to make Blackfire the Intel-inside of the home entertainment network space. He explained that there are some products in the market that already deliver some of the benefits targeted in RED, like Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV media adapters and Sonos, AirPlay and Google Cast systems, which can distribute content from a single point throughout the home. Work is also underway by various parties on enhancements to underlying Wi-Fi networks.

“It’s a natural thought that all you have to do is merge all of these capabilities together and you would have that whole home entertainment capability. But there are a few details that cause enormous problems,” Rajapakse said. “The first thing is that if you are going to render content on multiple devices simultaneously, they have to be synchronized to a level of precision that is pretty high, especially if you are doing in-room multichannel audio. The left and right speakers have to be synchronized to a high level of accuracy, and that’s a problem. The second thing is that if you are going to send video to one place and audio to another place for the same content, then you have an issue known as lip-sync. These are just a few of the details developers need to address. The overall problem is that having reliable home entertainment is a non-trivial challenge, even to get good Wi-Fi audio playback in the home without dead zones and dropouts.”

Rajapakse said that with the launch of Blackfire RED, consumers would have the ability to enjoy consistent, reliable, robust entertainment distribution throughout the home with the ability to mix-and-match anything to anything. The platform is scalable, will work with metadata implementations and can be configured for multiple streams of high-res audio formats.

Through the technology, users will be able to use the Blackfire RED protocol to enjoy:

  • Reliable multi-room, multi-channel, low latency wireless audio and video over Wi-Fi;
  • Advanced multi-source media pipeline handling for services such as Google Chromecast Audio and Spotify Connect;
  • Native integration into Smart TVs, enabling the TV to decode and send multichannel audio to wireless speakers;
  • Wireless 4K video for transmitting audio and video from a smart set-top box simultaneously to multiple TVs and speakers throughout the home;
  • Voice AI integration into multi-room, enabling a whole-home voice-control system; and easy integration into all smart devices.

“When people speak about smart home, people are talking about door locks, light switches, and thermostats. But this very often forgets the entertainment systems in the home. This often represents the highest-value products in the home that customers are interested in. The customer is not that interested in controlling the temperature in a more convenient way. What they care about is listening to music, watching movies and watching TV,” Rajapakse said. “These are the highest value experiences to the consumer and the place where we think enhancements and improvements have to take place in the home.”


By Greg Tarr


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