Xbox Joins WiSA, Upping Ante For Otherwise Budding Association
The Wireless Speaker and Audio association have added Xbox to their ranks, giving a bit of steam to the relatively quiet group. WiSA hasn't made a ton of noise in their six short years, although they do have a long list of heavyweights in their corner, including Klipsch, Onkyo, Polk, B&O, and Harman to name just a few.
The point of the organization is simple, to standardize wireless audio technology across brands and build a frictionless experience for consumers and dealers who interact with them. Traditionally, wired home theaters have been the king of home theater, in part to low costs but also because the technology just didn't exist.
However, that simply isn't the case now.
"The next step in home theater plug-and-play, is all wireless," says WiSA president Tony Ostrom. "The big issue traditionally is getting wireless technology that can accommodate the needs of a home theater - high-quality signal, low latency, high-channel synchronization, multi-channel wireless hasn't really existed."
WiSA is tackling this issue by certifying standards on everything from TVs, cable boxes, and gaming systems, informing consumers that they can buy a WiSA certified product that will work seamlessly with their other certified products. This makes Xbox an obvious new recruit, right?
Well, yes and no.
It seems that WiSA hasn't quite saturated the right channels for informing the general public of just what the heck they are or why they are important. Adding a handful of industry veterans isn't going to push the needle alone, especially if your goal is consumer education. And the problem wasn't for lack of effort; it was mostly an issue of WiSA starting the "process right now."
When asked if consumer education exists publicly, Ostrom simply said there isn't any. Of course, the caveat is that it's coming.
"When you look at wireless technology, there's a growing period where the technology has to be done right; brands have to start integrating it, the pitfalls of getting to the market, retailers getting their feet wet... all that takes time," Ostrom said. "Now we are at the point where there are several products in the field and a lot more in development. We're starting to hone in that message as to what exactly we are offering, what we are giving to the end-user."
"We are kind of at that place, right now," he added.
Ostrom is right. Finding WiSA certified products is a difficult task, but there's obviously a lot of important steps being taken in educating consumers based on brand recognition alone. Xbox (while not totally homogenous with dealers or really a home theater anchor) is a tremendous partner. Harman is another great partner based on their consumer saturation and their ability to create and sell products from beginning to end. B&O has started pushing the standard in the wild.
But all is for naught if the value proposition doesn't exist for both dealers and consumers.
"We're in a nice growing stage and some of our people are developing cool solutions," Ostrom said. "Companies can make new wireless speaker without the headaches of legacy wiring or have to turn into a technology juggernaut just to hit the market. They can make really cool powered wireless speakers, that work with everything else, as long as they are WiSA certified."