AES70/OCA: Full speed ahead?10 August 2016
A cluster of new membership announcements for the AES70-supporting Open Control Alliance suggests that – six months on from its publication – the networked audio control standard is beginning to make its mark, writes David Davies
Six months on from the publication of AES70 – which is based on the Open Control Architecture (OCA) developed over multiple years by the OCA Alliance – there are clear indications that the control standard is starting to achieve traction in pro-audio. After a number of high-profile showcases at trade shows including Prolight + Sound, late July brought news of three new members of the OCA Alliance.
AES70/OCA was the subject of extensive coverage in the February 2016 edition of PSNEurope, but to recap its primary objective is to make it possible to change and monitor all operating parameters of a network device. These include creation and deletion of signal paths, parameter adjustments for signal processing objects, network device firmware updates, and management of access control. In addition, control may be limited to facilitate simpler ‘operator’ functionality.
The three new member companies – custom control OEM manufacturer 1602 Group, AoIP live sound networking and USB audio streaming specialist Archwave Technologies, and commercial audio giant TOA Corporation – join the Alliance in the wake of the OCA’s appearance at InfoComm 2016, where it featured a live demo of AES70 interoperability on its booth.
Arie van den Broek, CEO of Archwave Technologies, commented: “Being dedicated to open technologies and standardisation in Audio-over-IP, joining the OCA Alliance and, therewith, supporting the AES70 standard, was a logical extension to Archwave’s current leading position as provider for modular AoIP solutions for RAVENNA and AES67. We are excited to work with the OCA Alliance and its members to further promote AES70 standard in our industry.”
Ethan Wetzell (pictured), OCA Alliance spokesperson and Bosch Communications Systems engineering core platform strategist, tells PSNEurope that “we take the [new member confirmations] as an incredibly positive sign that as people have watched the technology develop and the standardisation process become formal and ratified, they have made two principal observations: firstly, that there is a definite market benefit for customers and manufacturers alike; and secondly, they feel confident that this is real and is now making its way into the market.”
The OCA Alliance is hopeful there will be more member announcements in due course, with Wetzell saying the organisation is “happy to have a conversation with anyone who shows an interest. But I would say that our focus isn’t on the numbers as such, it’s more about focusing on the promotion of the technology and pushing the standard forwards.”
With this in mind, the OCA Alliance will continue to develop the OCA MicroDemo, which was created to demonstrate the ability of OCA to run in lightweight hardware environments and will soon be made available “by way of software and hardware references”. Wetzell also draws attention to a new open source controller developed by another recent addition to the Alliance, DeusO GmbH: “It’s been made available to anyone interested in using it and provides a really clever library of tools that allow people to build up front-end control applications for OCA devices.”
Whilst the work of “spreading adoption and awareness” regarding AES70 is ongoing, Wetzell confirms that progress is also being made on the prospective directory standard alluded to in the aforementioned PSNEurope feature. Currently referred to as AES-X238, the project aims to ‘develop a statement of requirements for a directory service architecture, possibly including an automatic network discovery mechanism, suitable for professional media networks of all scales, from tabletop to intercontinental.’
“It’s still very much in the early stages, but regular work is happening,” confirms Wetzell, who thinks a timetable of 18 months to two years could prove to be “about right”.