Flawless Audio Under All Conditions

New consumer electronics firm characterizes and defines product performance and cuts development and technical support time by 80%.

“The Maxwell Pro Network Emulator helped us emulate the most probable real-world customer usage scenarios in the lab, so that we could learn how our product would perform under both extreme and routine network conditions. This meant that we could cover all required usage scenarios, provide clear information on product performance to our sales channels, pinpoint issues and problems before they arose.”

-Aron Rosenberg, Lead Engineer

Aether Things Company Profile

Aether makes thinking things, beautifully crafted products that use powerful technology and simple, natural controls to make everyday moments nicer. The team at Aether is dedicated to building things that remove the effort and frustration from daily life, putting joy and surprise back into the everyday. Aether's flagship product is Cone.

Cone is a thinking music player which plays audio from streaming music services, internet radio stations, and podcasts all with a simple turn of a dial.

Challenge: Seamless, trouble free operation

For a successful product launch, Aether must anticipate every possible consumer usage scenario, including all the limitations and issues with home WiFi networks and last mile connectivity.

The Aether Cone will operate in home WiFi environments. These environments manifest a plethora of problems:

  • Insufficient WiFi range and power
  • Underprovisioned WiFi (too many users; too heavy a load)
  • Radio interference
  • Device driver upgrade and incompatibility issues
  • Interference from other WiFi access points, especially in urban areas

These environmental conditions cause packet loss, delay, duplication, jitter, and re-ordering, potentially wreaking havoc on the audio experience.

Emulating Home WiFi ScenariosAether took advantage of Maxwell Pro's home network scenarios. Aether went a step further to add even more custom scenarios for home WiFi to evaluate Cone performance under a wide range of conditions. These included latency, limited bandwidth, and packet drops to emulate an overloaded wireless network.

  1. A scenario with 5% packet loss and latency around 150 ms.
  2. An upload bandwidth restriction of 128 Kbps and a download restriction of 1.5 Mbps.
  3. A scenario combining (1) and (2).

Emulating the Carrying of Cones Around the Home

One use case that Aether's product must handle is its customers carrying the Cone around their house while streaming live music. Lab testing required only a single wireless access point connected to the Maxwell Pro as a means to route traffic through it. Then applying custom time-varying impairments, such as these two:

  1. Random switching between two paths, A and B, with a 5% chance of a switch every second.
    • Path A (WiFi inside your house) has 0% packet loss, 80ms latency, upload rate of 512 kbps and download rate of 1.5 Mbps.
    • Path B (WiFi on your patio) has 2% packet loss, 120ms latency, upload rate of 512 kbps and download rate of 1.5 Mbps.

  2. A scenario that mimicked evolving bandwidth as a device moves about your house.
    • Normal base rates of bandwidth and latency.
    • Time 0 to 60 secs has the normal base values.‣
    • Time 60 to 120 secs steadily slides the rates down to 25% of the base rates, increases packet loss to 3%, and increases latency to 150 ms.

Maxwell Pro's time varying impairment GUI controls and support for multiple, concurrent network flows to target specific packets and protocols made it possible to perform the desired custom scenarios. Additionally, impairment statistics gathered from live networks were also used in scripts that controlled the time-varying impairments in the lab, allowing automated testing.

Complete Operational Transparency Saved Money

Because Aether knew how Cone would perform under real-world home networking conditions, Aether designers could provide sensing and detecting code to dynamically adjust the customer's music experience. Cone can reliably detect when the WiFi is overloaded, turned off, etc. to eliminate negative user experiences and user frustration.

Aether estimates that Cone's enhanced functionality has eliminated about 80% of network related development and testing time.

"By using Maxwell Pro to customize a comprehensive portfolio of home network performance and testing scenarios, we were able to perfect the experience for our users. We eliminated guessing games and tedious manual testing sessions. We are really pleased with Maxwell Pro.”

-Aron Rosenberg, Lead Engineer

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