Ex-Apple Designer Plans Home Audio System Launch

Former Apple design engineer Christopher Stringer — who has over 1,400 patents to his name — is developing a smart speaker that will compete with Apple’s HomePod, according to a report in the Financial Times (FT), citing sources familiar with the matter.

An Australian native who studied in England, Stringer spent over two decades working with Jony Ive and Apple’s design team. He left the Silicon Valley tech giant in 2017 to start his smart audio system Syng, in Venice Beach.

Not since Nest was launched in 2010 by ex-Apple employees Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers has a new device generated so much interest. Nest, the smart home pioneer, was purchased by Google for $3.2 billion in 2014. Rogers — also an original iPhone engineer — is on Syng’s board.

Syng uses a new audio format and is focusing on sound quality as well as design. It says it is striving to “reimagine the world of audio by focusing on the future-state of sound as a gateway to the senses and a catalyst for new experiences.”

Branded as “Cell,” the new speakers will use “immersive rendering” to create a “revolutionary” sound that is “indistinguishable from reality.” The initial release is anticipated for the fourth quarter of 2020.

Syng raised about $15 million in a Series A financing round, and sources familiar with the matter told FT the startup will be in search of investors to raise more. 

Stringer co-founded the company with designer Damon Way and audio engineer Afrooz Family. Formerly of Apple, Family worked on Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, released in 2018.

In February, Amazon had about 70 percent of the smart speaker market, according to a PYMNTS study. The Amazon Echo speaker, with the voice assistant Alexa built in, was first introduced in the U.S. in 2014. Some 31.7 percent of users said they’ll continue using a Google device. Just 18.4 percent will be using another brand, such as the Apple HomePod.



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