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Kelowna company making noise with smartphone technology

Kelowna-based ESS Technologies is making some noise with global smartphone manufacturer, LG Electronics.

While most smartphones are adept at capturing close-range speech, noisy environments like rock concerts pose a different challenge. Screaming crowds drown out the music, leading to poor playback quality on the phone.

LG turned to ESS to develop audio-amplifying microchips that can distinguish between the melody and “malarkey” in a concert venue.

To meet the challenge, ESS engaged a team of four Mitacs interns from the University of British Columbia – Okanagan to apply the latest in audio signal processing research. The students helped to develop a microchip that captures and reproduces a crisp concert experience.

“Their research helped us to become a supplier to LG’s newest line of smartphones. That led us to even more business,” says Martin Mallinson, Chief Scientist at ESS.  “Now we’re supplying audio amplifiers to major smartphone makers around the world.”

What’s more, Martin hired three of the interns to join his R&D team full-time and will host more interns with the hope of hiring them, too. “The internships gave us a glimpse of what the researchers could do, and now they’re an important part of our R&D team.”


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia for their support of the Accelerate research internship in this story.

Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and Research Manitoba.