Ex-Apple designer targets HomePod with Syng 'Cell' speaker startup

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A former Apple designer, as well as ex-Apple employees, have formed the start-up Syng, with their 'Cell' speaker aiming to take on the HomePod and other smart speakers with its own superior computational audio processing.

A key element of the HomePod is its adaptive audio, which is able to create an optimal audio experience for the user, regardless of its position and nearby obstacles. While impressive to most listeners of the HomePod, one team believes it can create a far better product.

The startup Syng is using a combination of design and sound quality to create a new type of speaker, according to the Financial Times. Its first product, the "Cell" speaker, will use "immersive rendering" and a novel audio format to create a "revolutionary" sound "indistinguishable from reality."

In its pitches to investors, Syng plans to launch a range of speakers, with the initial launch scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020. Along with expanding the speaker range, Syng also hopes to bolster revenues by licensing out its rendering technology to other speaker producers, as well as setting up its own subscription service.

So far, the startup has raised in the region of $15 million in Series A funding, and is aiming to raise more ahead of the launch.

The company is headed up by Christopher Stringer, a prominent industrial designer who left Apple after 21 years of employment. Stringer had worked on a number of Apple products, including the original iPhone and iPad, and was involved in Apple's famous legal battle against Samsung over iPhone patents.

Stringer is named on more than 1,400 patents in the United States, and is credited for innovations pertaining to the iPhone, Apple Watch, and the HomePod. The patents list includes filings for HomePod's spatial audio system, which is likely to have been improved upon by Stringer for the new speaker.

According to the report, Stringer moved from Silicon Valley in 2017 to set up the startup in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. The company also counts other Apple employees in its ranks, including co-founder Afrooz Family who worked for Apple for six years as an audio engineer and contributed to the HomePod.

Other employees for the firm formerly worked for Nest, Ring, Nike, Facebook, and major audio companies including Harman International and Bowers & Wilkins.

While offering a better audio experience is hoped to make Syng stand out, its fortunes remain uncertain. It is entering an already crowded market, and has to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which can impact both attracting investment and the scheduling of production.

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