Partnerships don’t always run smoothly for electronics companies. Ranging from differences in software and security to the company culture itself, many challenges can arise. That’s why the collaboration between Plantronics and Dialog stands out so much—it seems to run smoothly and shows all the signs of becoming ever stronger.
What’s their secret? According to both companies, one key is constant communication at all levels (from the engineering team to the management team). Doing so makes it possible to efficiently address challenges while product solutions continue to emerge across the globe. As summarized by Rod Brownfield, Plantronics’ Senior Product Manager, “Dialog and Plantronics are close partners with a very collaborative relationship. Dialog’s flexibility, development, and availability to customize the solutions without restrictions give Plantronics the path to achieve their goals.”
Arend van der Weijden, Dialog’s Vice President of "Wireless, Audio and Voice," says, “The reason Dialog and Plantronics have a great match is that Dialog tries to make the best optimized chip that is open and flexible. At the same time, Plantronics has great in-house expertise in audio and how these applications need to be developed.”
Reference Designs, SDKs Push the Supply Chain
Dialog provides reference-design schematics and software development kits with technical support to help Plantronics keep the supply chain moving. Evaluation boards and control software are available to quickly evaluate parts, which makes it easier for Plantronics to move quickly in the development stage.
Brownfield says, “Dialog has both ROM-based and flash-based chips…If Plantronics designs a product that is going to be in the market for probably three to five years, Dialog lets us design a product that meets those needs, but we can also optimize it for cost. With a flash-based approach, we can also design products that can be periodically updated, allowing Plantronics to provide their customers a continuous stream of value-added features and benefits.”
Plantronics’s CS family of products—specifically the CS500—takes advantage of Dialog’s ROM-based chips for cost competitiveness, while the Savi 400 and Savi 700 series use Dialog’s flash-based chips. The fact that Plantronics has access to both of these options enables the company to offer solutions for specific use-case applications.
For example, Plantronics recently released Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT)-enhanced security for its flash-based headsets as a result of changes to the DECT security standard. Customers who have a Plantronics flash-based Savi 700 product can easily update the firmware on it to ensure higher security. This was especially useful for many of the company’s government clients, who value security above all else in audio communications.
For many years, Plantronics has also incorporated Dialog’s audio codecs—the SC14480 and SC14450—into its products. The SC14480 is a monolithically integrated DECT/CAT-iq solution in standard CMOS that’s ideal for headset applications. The SC14450 is another audio processor that features a 16-bit CompactRISC processor, plus two user-programmable Gen2DSPs. It runs multiple audio codecs.
Due to radio-frequency regulations, the U.S. uses its own standard: DECT 6.0. is a North American variation of DECT that operates at 1.9 GHz. Though almost identical to the DECT standard used in other regions, technology that uses the U.S. standard is incompatible with DECT systems elsewhere.
Arend notes, “The key chip is the SC14480, which is used in most of the Plantronics products mentioned before. The chip operates at 1.9 GHz and offers a lot of benefits, especially for audio professionals that expect that wireless products work with the same quality as wired products.”
Partnerships between companies like Dialog Semiconductor and Plantronics are a great opportunity to develop innovative products. By sharing their roadmaps, companies benefit from the chance to look at future projects and plan how they can work in tandem and tie products together for the benefit of both. I look forward to report about their next audio product innovations in 2018.