CEVA Acquires Spatial Audio Business from Mtech Ventures Graduate VisiSonics

May 18, 2023

Rockville, Md.-based CEVA Inc. (NASDAQ: CEVA), a leading licensor of wireless connectivity and smart sensing technologies and custom system-on-chip (SoC) solutions, recently announced the acquisition of the RealSpace® 3D Spatial Audio business, technology and patents from VisiSonics Corporation.

VisiSonics is a graduate of the Mtech Ventures incubator and winner of multiple Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) technology development grants. The company also completed a national NSF I-Corps training.

Based in Maryland, close to CEVA’s sensor fusion R&D development center, the VisiSonics spatial audio R&D team and software extend CEVA’s application software portfolio for embedded systems, bolstering CEVA’s market position in hearables, where spatial audio is fast becoming a must-have feature.

Spatial audio could also drive innovation in other end markets, including gaming, AR/VR, audio conferencing, healthcare, automotive and media entertainment.

RealSpace spatial audio rendering software provides an accurate digital simulation of real-life, immersive sound. Its proprietary algorithms create a realistic aural experience through as little as two-channel stereo audio while supporting full multi-channel and ambisonics. With dynamic head tracking enabled, the RealSpace user experience is even more immersive, as the sound sources are held stationary while a user’s head is moving, simulating listening experiences in the real world. This allows the user to experience theater-like sound through headphones or earbuds when watching movies, playing video games or listening to music, podcasts or conference calls.

“For more than a decade, we have pushed the boundaries of innovation in the areas of capture, rendering, and personalizing spatial audio to create our spatial audio software,” said Ramani Duraiswami, founder and Chief Executive Officer of VisiSonics. “Now, as spatial audio is set to become mainstream, CEVA is the right company to take our technology forward and fully exploit its potential through their global presence and synergistic technologies, and with key partners like THX Ltd.”

THX®, a world-class audio and video certification and technology company, has utilized VisiSonics’ technology in its tools for game developers and music producers, as well as in advanced THX audio personalization for headset manufacturers.

“We have enjoyed a successful relationship with the VisiSonics 3D spatial audio team, incorporating their leading-edge software into our spatial audio solutions for gaming, music, and hearables,” said THX Chief Executive Officer Jason Fiber. “CEVA is an ideal company to work with THX to take spatial audio solutions to the next level given its synergistic voice, audio and sensor fusion solutions, and embedded systems expertise. I look forward to working with CEVA to create further enhanced entertainment experiences for our customers.”

VisiSonics is currently located in the University of Maryland Discovery District.

VisiSonics’ array microphone business will continue as a separate entity focused on providing tools for the analysis of critical listening spaces. The audio analysis side of the company is expanding  into new markets using a re-engineered version of its arrays that use micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) microphones.

Duraiswami is Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Education in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland.

VisiSonics completed the national NSF I-Corps program in 2012. The company also entered Mtech Ventures in 2012, graduating a decade later in January 2022.

The company participated in three MIPS projects. The first was with Larry Davis, Professor Emeritus, Department of Computer Science, and Director, Center for Automation Research (CfAR), University of Maryland, on a project titled “Enhanced 3D Audio Experience via Personalization.” The second was with Maria Cameron, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Maryland, on a project titled “High Frequency Computational Acoustics for Audio.” The third, a two-phase project, was with  Matthew Goupell, Professor, Director of Ph.D. Program, Co-Director of Undergraduate Honors, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland, on a project titled “Personalized Headphone Audio: Beyond HRTFs.”

VisiSonics was also a winner in Mtech’s 2011 UMD $75K Business Plan Competition.