25th September 2000

Imagination Technologies Buys Ensigma

Ensigma To Form New Division With Focus On Digital Signal Processing


Imagination Technologies Group plc has agreed to acquire Ensigma, a private company specialising in Digital Signal Processing (DSP) algorithms and technologies for entertainment, communication and speech applications, with acknowledged experience and intellectual property (IP) in audio and speech processing.

Ensigma will become a new division of Imagination Technologies, joining existing divisions PowerVR Technologies1 and VideoLogic Systems. The newly established Ensigma Technologies division will continue its focus on audio and speech processing for wireless and Internet communication and will operate from its existing location in Chepstow, Wales.

Hossein Yassaie, CEO of Imagination Technologies says: “”;Ensigma will provide us with excellent expertise and state-of-the-art algorithms in the key areas of audio and speech processing and communications. The purchase of Ensigma is a logical and important step in our stated strategy of creating complementary intellectual property relating to the human-computer interface.””;

Imagination Technologies will acquire the entire share capital of Ensigma Limited for a maximum consideration of £5.0 million, comprising £1.8m in cash and £3.2m in shares and shares under option. £2.3m, of which £1.3m is cash, is payable on completion with the balance due over a three year earn out period based on financial performance and product development milestones. For the year ending 30 June 1999, Ensigma generated £36,000 profit before tax on revenue of £1.0m and had net assets of £1.2m.

The acquisition of Ensigma means the combined Imagination Technologies divisions have IP and cutting-edge skills in key technological areas including: revolutionary 2D and 3D graphics; digital video/DVD; digital radio (DAB); consumer audio (MP3, AC3, DTS); wireless speech and audio communication and speech processing and recognition. This combined breadth of IP and expertise will enable Imagination Technologies to provide complementary and integrated solutions for human-computer interface to its partners.

Ensigma customers and partners include the BBC, Hitachi, DSP Group, Texas Instruments, the Ministry of Defence, ARC Cores, Arcam, LSI Logic, Roke Manor Research, British Telecom and NEC.

Michael Carey, president of Ensigma Technologies, says: “”;Ensigma’s fourteen years of experience in the design of signal processing algorithms and related systems has put us at the centre of the development of important and emerging technologies. Imagination Technologies’ proven success in IP generation and licensing, silicon design, and commendable strategy of development of cutting edge human-computer interface technologies, will provide the ideal complement to our existing skills and a strong platform for Ensigma’s future progress.””;

Ensigma Technologies will focus its development resources in the following key areas:

Digital Radio
Digital radio brings the flexibility and quality of digital audio to radio broadcasts. The new digital radio standard known as Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) uses a single frequency network to provide CD-quality reception, while also removing the need for retuning as you travel. Digital Radio is also robust in poor reception areas, and can carry additional information for text or graphics, for example in traffic reports. Ensigma is a leader in DAB technology and has worked on the development of the DAB standard for many years, developing algorithms and system designs for audio and data transmission and reception.

The BBC has been a key player in the uptake of Eureka 147, the European standard for Digital Audio Broadcasting, which is being adopted on a global scale. Ensigma has provided the BBC with digital audio technology for both transmission and reception. Ensigma has also provided solutions for universal TV sound decoders including a NICAM decoder for Texas Instruments and a DAB ASIC for Hitachi.

Consumer Audio
Digital Audio provides high-quality sound, from solutions such as Dolby Digital™ in the latest home theatre systems, to music on the move with MP3. Ensigma’s portfolio includes implementations for many popular processors, integrating high quality audio into a wide range of consumer devices.

Working for Semiconductor companies such as DSP Group and ARC Cores, Ensigma has designed audio codecs for use in general consumer goods such as home theatres and MP3 players, enabling these companies to avoid the expense of audio specific processors. Ensigma has also provided an MPEG audio codec to Hitachi as part of the complete Ensigma DAB baseband receiver. Recently Roke Manor Research, in a joint venture with Ensigma, has developed a sophisticated receiver chip for Hitachi, which is implemented in the Alpha 10 Digital tuner from Arcam, the first of a new generation of digital radios that will revolutionise radio in the 21st century.

Wireless and Internet Communication
With the advent of wireless protocols such as 3G, EDGE and WAP, the mobile phone has evolved into a multimedia terminal. Ensigma has broad experience in the design and implementation of algorithms such as GSM, MP3 and hands-free dialling, and provides key system elements for speech and audio processing. Ensigma’s expertise in these exciting new technologies is encapsulated in IP available for licensing, enabling system integrators to add these capabilities to their processors. Future applications of Ensigma’s existing IP include high-calibre audio codecs for compression and decompression to enable the next generation of online audio content streaming and voice algorithms for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications.

Ensigma works directly with chipset and handset manufacturers such as LSI Logic, Racal and NEC. This enables Ensigma’s customers to integrate full speech packages into their devices. Ensigma has provided speech-processing technology for all forms of handsets including secure, cordless and wireless.

Speech Technology
Whether speech recognition for hands-free dialling or speaker verification for fraud protection, Ensigma’s speech technologies operate in real-time under the most adverse conditions. Ensigma’s speech classification implementations have achieved world-class status in independent international evaluations.


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