"Synchronous Wi-Fi": the Alliance is preparing to certify technology TimeSync

    At CES 2017, the association of manufacturers of computer equipment and wireless devices Wi-Fi Alliance announced its intention to certify the technology called TimeSync.

    Its goal is to solve the problem with the delivery of high-quality audio and video in a multi-station Wi-Fi network so that the final result will be issued without re-synchronizing the sound. When delivering audio in the "point-to-point" format - for example, from a media server to a PC - timing does not cause difficulties. In the case of broadcasting via Wi-Fi, problems may arise - small delays of a few milliseconds.

    Photo Christiaan Colen / CC The

    members of the Wi-Fi Alliance want to make their decision a standard of connection for a wide variety of systems by competing with Bluetooth and Zigbee in the market for audio-visual solutions. The implementation of the TimeSync certification project opens up a number of new possibilities for creating ecosystems of wireless speakers.

    "Increasing interoperability will lead to the development of an ecosystem and greater choice for users," said Kevin Robinson, vice president of marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance.

    Wi-Fi TimeSync is based on technologies such as the IEEE 802.11 standard. In essence, this is an extension for the MAC Layer Management Entity (MLME) when the requesting party asks the receiver to send a time stamp and receives a response in the ACK frame (image below). Its original purpose was to monitor the status of networks. Now it finds application in the home media ecosystem.

    Source: IEEE 11-13 / 0095r0

    The concept of the solution is simple: several Wi-Fi devices synchronize their internal clocks and set the value that the master device has at that moment. In this case, the devices take into account the information transmission delays and fix the moment when the frame leaves the transmitting device.

    Since this uses the time scale with sub-microsecond accuracy, the sound will be delivered as mastering engineer intended. TimeSync is also able to synchronize the work of several cameras, synchronizing the shooting of individual frames. The protocol also has mechanisms for determining the main device with the “best clocks”, which are performed every time a new device is connected to the system.

    High-performance media systems are the most obvious use for TimeSync, however there are others. Kevin believes that the technology will be used in the development of television multimedia consoles, headphones and players. Also, TimeSync can be used to synchronize pictures from the camera and sound from the microphone during recording. Without a doubt, TimeSync has every chance to find application in the market of the Internet of Things.

    It is expected that the first chips with TimeSync support will hit the market by mid-2017, and products using them will be released in early 2018.

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