Formation Wireless Technology Explained

Adam Ward, vice president of software engineering at Bowers & Wilkins offered the following overview of the wireless technology that is the foundation of the company’s new Formation Suite of audio products.

There several technical elements to the Formation Wireless technology that result in uniquely high quality of service and audio delivery but this is a partial explanation of how we provide best in class offerings with the Formation Suite.

First and foremost, the hardware, RF (radio frequency), and Wi-Fi architectures are designed from the ground up with the following considerations: 1) Transport of 24-bit/96khz audio data and 2) Three Wi-Fi radios and six antennas with dedicated and isolated functionality, as follows:
• A dedicated radio for connecting to the home wireless access point
• Another dedicated radio to achieve our unparalleled 1 microsecond (1 us) synchronization between multiple products within the same space/room
• And lastly, another dedicated to multi-space/whole-home audio, delivering a 1 millisecond (1 ms) synchronization between spaces

Our module is DFS (Dynamic Frequency Selection) capable, and therefore is certified to operate in a spectrum of 5 GHz that is usually reserved for defense/radar communications (i.e. flight control, military). This opens a whole range of 5-GHz channels that are often very clean because very few consumer products operate in this space. Formation devices routinely and opportunistically monitor channel availability and interference to automatically select the optimal Wi-Fi configuration between our devices specific for any particular installation, all without any intervention from the end-user.

From a wireless hardware and software point of view, all Formation products are based on the same electronics and software module. Not only is this an essential characteristic of an extensible product platform, but it also results in a unique advantage over many other competitors in the field who support high-resolution audio.

Further, Formation devices don’t rely on your home access point for audio transport between themselves. For example, let’s say you have installed Formation devices in three rooms in your home; a Formation Bar and a Formation Bass in your Living Room, a pair of Formation Duos in your Office, and a Formation Wedge in your Kitchen.

When you begin to listen to Spotify on the Formation Wedge in your Kitchen, a stereo stream of data is sent from Spotify’s cloud through your access point down to the Formation Wedge.

When you add the Living Room and Office spaces to that listening session, either through the Formation mobile companion app or by pressing the Form button on any of the devices in those spaces, rather than relay the stereo stream from the Formation Wedge back over your home access point to the other spaces, we utilize the Formation mesh network to deliver that audio, which incurs no additional bandwidth usage on your home network. Put another way, your home network is only burdened with transporting a single data stream, regardless of how many Formation spaces are rendering the audio throughout your home.