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Caltech Boosts Communication for Remote Project Teams


Caltech's James Kent Blackburn sits at his desk with the Duet PCS speakerphone system behind him.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has deployed a new speakerphone system as a way to improve communication for researchers working on its Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project.

The LIGO project, which is focused on the search and study of cosmic gravitational waves, includes roughly 850 participants, at a number of locations throughout the world. To facilitate weekly communications among its remote project teams, Caltech developed the Enabling Virtual Organizations (EVO) System—an application that combines audio, video, chat, whiteboard, screen-sharing and meeting reservations into a single environment. Caltech selected Phoenix Audio Technologies’ Duet unit, with its echo cancellation and noise suppression technologies, to provide EVO's audio communications element.

"As the Principle Investigator (PI) on the NSF award to improve EVO for LIGO, I have the responsibility for clear communications and direction between the original EVO team and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration," explains James Kent Blackburn, a senior scientist on the project, in a statement issued by the company. "The Collaboration meets 'virtually' each week, anywhere from 75 to 100 meetings, leveraging the EVO development and enhancement communications where participants are using audio-video technology to communicate with one another from all over the world. People are often relying on their laptops for these meetings, but many times, the hardware technology that’s available in the laptops simply does not do a good enough job when it comes to echo suppression and noise reduction. That’s where the Phoenix Duet units come in. They are small and compact and they have built-in echo cancellation and noise reduction and we just plug them into our USB ports in our desktops or laptops."

Duet PCS is a USB desktop speakerphone for PC and Mac. The lightweight mobile VoIP conferencing solution weighs just 0.55 pounds and measures 3.75" x 1.25" x 4.5". Duet PCS conforms to ITU-T G.167 standards and features an integrated microphone—with 360 degree room coverage—and speaker.

Additional specifications for the Duet PCS speakerphone include:

  • Full duplex performance with no attenuation (either way) during full duplex
  • Acoustic echo cancellation >40 dB
  • Noise cancellation >10dB
  • Voice level equalization
  • Convergence speed 40 dB/sec
  • Tail length (200ms)
  • Convergence during full duplex (no recovery time after full duplex)
  • Low delay (10 msec)
  • Bandwidth 20 – 7500 kHz for speech processing

For more information about Duet PCS, visit Phoenix Audio Technologies Web site.

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