There’s a new wireless speaker technology coming to town, and rather than require Bluetooth or WiFi, it works by just resting your phone on top and letting the music come out. And it’s so easy, anyone can use it.
One of the surprising stands from our trip to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year was that of RCA, a company that doesn’t exactly have a presence in Australia (not anymore, anyway).
There, it was presenting devices with “SoundFlow,” a technology that an RCA representative told us ran off of Near-Field Audio, a new wireless audio concept that “just worked”.
What do they mean by that?
Well, you take your phone, play some music using the speaker, sit the phone on top of the speaker, and the sound is amplified. There are no drivers to install and nothing special to synchronise, nor does it rely on Near-Field Communication technology, despite the obviously similar name.
It just works.
In Australia, Kaiser Baas has grabbed the first products with this tech for release on what appears to be a rebadging of the first one released in America – the iFrogz Boost – and calling it the “Contact.”
This is a speaker about the size of a small brick, powered by three AA batteries, and featuring a microUSB charge port (if you don’t want to use batteries) and a 3.5mm line-in port (though no 3.5mm stereo cable is included). Two rubbery bumpers are included in the box, allowing you to colour your device in either red or green, and there’s a little pouch included too, which should protect it when in transit.
Like any speaker, you can plug in a device with the audio in port (the 3.5mm jack), but there’s also another way to get the speaker to amplify your music.
With Near-Field Audio technology on board, the Kaiser Baas Contact can amplify the sound already coming out of your speaker when it comes in contact with the surface of the speaker.
One of the chief questions concerning Near Field Audio is, curiously, how it works, and no one seems to have any definitive answers.
At CES, one representative for RCA told us it had to do with magnets and capturing the audio being emitted from the speakers, with the speaker basically acting as an amplifier for the audio coming from the magnet in the speaker itself, which corroborates with a review of the iFrogz product at Sound & Vision magazine.
Other ideas suggest that the technology works from a hidden microphone in the lid or something that amplifies the vibrations, but while we have yet to have an official explanation shown to us, the magnetic amplification seems to make the most sense.