1 billion users in 100 countries

TMC’s VoIP & Gadget Blog: Why SPIRIT DSP Powers Viber’s Popular HD Mobile VoIP App

SPIRIT DSP, a voice and video over IP Engines provider, today announced that its  TeamSpirit Voice Engine Mobile is powering the new  Viber application that offers free HD Voice over IP (VoIP) calls from the iPhone.

«Within three days of launching Viber on the iPhone late last year, we received one million downloads, and seven million within the first month, quickly becoming the No. 1 free app in the Netherlands, Spain, Singapore, Taiwan, Israel and several other countries, validating the enormous demand for quality, free mobile VoIP calling,» said Viber Media’s CEO Talmon Marco.  «We’re incredibly pleased with this massive uptake and can credit SPIRIT’s Voice Engine Mobile for the quality of the Viber voice experience.»

I interviewed Alex Kravchenko, VP S&M, SPIRIT DSP about this news last week for more information:

1) Describe your mobile offering, what it does, how long it’s been in development, etc.

SPIRIT DSP is a technology innovator with  10 + years of experience in state-of-the-art technologies for both cross-platform V2oIP and embedded software development for multiple DSP / RISC processors and mobile handsets. Direct SPIRIT customers ship over 60% of all smartphones worldwide.  SPIRIT offers both multi-rate, scalable HD audio, and scalable HD video, all incorporated in one multi-platform, carrier-grade software voice and video SDK which turns any mobile terminal into multipoint FaceTime-like videoconferencing endpoint. SPIRIT’s SDK is designed for real-time HD communications over 3G, WiFi, WiMax, LTE and other wireless IP networks and is fully compatible with carriers’ IMS core platforms. SPIRIT allows carriers and services providers not only to launch all-IP voice services, but to deliver much more profitable and easy to monetize convergent, multipoint HD software video conferencing.

2) What mobile platforms do you support?

Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone 7. HP’s webOS, RIM QNX and Nokia’s MeeGo are currently being examined as well.

3) Why did Viber choose SPIRIT DSP over some of your competitors? For both voice quality and time-to-market. Users have become more and more spoiled by good VoIP software now. SPIRIT’s Voice Engine Mobile is a ready-to-go solution that perfectly resolves all VoIP issues and delivered Viber a true HD VoIP quality based on SPIRIT proprietary patentfree IP-MR wideband codec, low delay, real-time adaptation to constantly changing bandwidth in WiFi and 3G channel and high robustness to packet loss in any IP network environment.

4) Do you know if Global IP Sound was considered? And if so, what was the reason(s) why Viber chose your solution?

Yes, SPIRIT was better from the start of discussions. And lately GIPS officially stopped all its voice engine license sales after being acquired by Google, and GIPS sales people now recommend customers go to SPIRIT for high quality voice and video engines both on PCs and mobile devices.

5) How cost competitive are you on the mobile side of things compared with your competitors?

We do not know real SPIRIT competition today, who cover all the platforms, like SPIRIT does. We see small competitive pieces here and there against SPIRIT’s complete and integrated product line. SPIRIT is not the cheapest vendor, but the quality and reliability justify the cost and saves crucial time-to-market. Viber particularly wanted to launch before Christmas.

In practice, SPIRIT does help customers of all ranges – with paid service to their subscribers, and customers who (like Viber) are today offering free services to their users. So SPIRIT is flexible when it comes to licensing models. I would say that today SPIRIT’s voice and video engine today is like Mercedes in cars with full  product range for any road and case, complete functionality, great quality and a reasonable price.

6) What technological advantages does SPIRIT DSP have over competitors?

Our latest product, TeamSpirit® 3.2 Video Conferencing software relies on the most advanced scalable HD voice and HD video coding technologies – SPIRIT proprietary patent-free IP-MR™ wideband codec and H.264 SVC (Scalable Video Coding). Together with SPIRIT’s proprietary AEC, ARS, NetJet, stream control and routing algorithms, it delivers to each endpoint the highest signal quality that the terminal and its bandwidth can handle right now, with no quality degradation and no heavy transcoding on the server side. SPIRIT software constantly monitors the channel and automatically, on-the-fly, adapts each incoming and outgoing stream to the currently available bandwidth and processing power of each particular user. By transmitting the details of a speaker’s tone, inflection, mimics, face expression and remote ambience, HD calling provided by TeamSpirit 3.2 Video Conferencing ushers in a great communication experience for natural human interaction.

Furthermore, TeamSpirit 3.2 Video Conferencing provides cross-platform massively multi-point videoconferencing technology with deep platform optimization capabilities, including support for diverse IP endpoints such as:

• Windows, Mac or Linux-based desktop PC’s (x86 and x64)

• Plugins for all major web browsers

• Android, iOS or Windows Phone powered handsets (ARM)

• Custom/embedded STB and video terminals (ARM, TI)

7) Do you have any technical statistics or can you describe how you handle latency, jitter, packet loss concealment and echo cancellation? E.g. “Spirit DSP introduces about 20ms of latency on the iPhone, which is minimal. Further, with superb packet loss concealment there is very little jitter. We have an excellent software-based echo canceller  with our proprietary algorithms.” Full-duplex, rich, wideband voice is our traditional strength, which is provided by SPIRIT’s IP-MR proprietary wideband codec. IP-MR delivers 4.2-4.5 MOS voice quality without packet loss, and 3.1 MOS voice quality with 30% packet loss at 15 kbps, only half of its maximum bitrate. The overall quality of the solution is also secured by a dozens of additional high-precision DSP algos working in adaptive ways. Voice is tested in a dedicated QA lab with thousands of test cycles and most advanced network models simulating not only jitter and loss, but also bandwidth limitations, delays, bursts, spikes, and many other network impairments. SPIRIT-powered IP phones passed tests in most advanced audio testing labs (like Head Acoustics GmbH) and complied with the strictest carrier-grade voice tests (including ITU-T P.340, P.341, P.342, TIA 810-B, TIA-920), developed by international standards organizations (ITU-T, TIA) for traditional phones, that are now applied to all VoIP terminals.

— Thanks to SPIRIT’s in-depth ARM/x86/x64 optimization and new  multi-core processing support, the TeamSpirit platform provides HD 1080p, 30 fps on a standard С2D PC and 10+ hours of wideband talk time on mobile endpoints.

— The TeamSpirit 3.2 Video Conferencing server software ensures high user capacity by supporting 1000+ video channels and 8000+ audio channels on one standard $4K PC hardware server.

8) Does Spirit DSP do anything “special” with regards to Bluetooth headsets to improve quality? Probably not. The API to communicate with the Bluetooth headset is probably pretty standard.

Support for different IO devices and mode switching is definitely supported in the SPIRIT SDK.

Available in the Apple App Store, Viber’s free mobile VoIP app can make calls over 3G and Wi-Fi connections, bypassing the use of any cellular voice minutes; calls are free worldwide.  Unlike other VoIP services such as Skype, Viber requires  no registration or need to log-in to make calls.  Viber product releases for Android, BlackBerry and Symbian are now in the works supported by SPIRIT.

“The new Viber application is wildly popular in the mobile VoIP market as a serious  Skype alternative, and we’re thrilled that Viber Media chose SPIRIT’s Voice Engine Mobile to ensure a quality calling experience for their users,” said SPIRIT’s Chairman Andrew Sviridenko. “Viber’s success amplifies the growing sophistication  and demand for quality mobile VoIP, anytime, anywhere.”

SPIRIT’s TeamSpirit Mobile enables HD-quality voice and video communications on a broad range of mobile devices, addressing all impairments inherent with  IP networks — such as congestion, echo, noise suppression, latency, delay (jitter), packet loss, lip synchronization, etc. — to secure high quality voice  over Wi-Fi, LTE/WiMAX and 3G/4G networks. It includes highly optimized standard voice and video codecs, such as G.711, G.723, G.729, iLBC, SILK, H.263, H.264 and SPIRIT’s patent-free wideband IP-MRTM codec.  TeamSpirit mobile voice engine is available on all popular smartphone operating systems including iPhone iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian.

Tom Keating

CTO, VP, Founder TMC Labs

14 февраля 2011