Ingenious Audio tuning in to guitar market

Around seven million electric guitars are sold annually. Picture: Getty
Around seven million electric guitars are sold annually. Picture: Getty
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A TECHNOLOGY start-up has set its sights on the $4 billion (£2.6bn) guitar market with a new wireless audio device aimed at amateur musicians.

“Jack” – a plug-in device that uses wi-fi to connect a guitar to an amplifier – has been quietly under development for the past four years but is now gearing up to go to market. Its creators at Ingenious Audio have launched a £20,000 funding campaign on Kickstarter to set up a production line in Livingston, and expect to begin shipping in April.

Founder John Crawford, a former manager at Edinburgh’s Wolfson Microelectronics, said Jack can also link a guitar to a PC, tablet, media player or any other wi-fi enabled device. Music can then be recorded, edited and shared with ease.

Working with academic partners from Scottish universities, Ingenious Audio – which is based in Edinburgh with a design team in Glasgow – has overcome numerous technical issues to make use of wi-fi’s high data rate. Its patent-pending technology is claimed to be nearly 13 times faster than conventional bluetooth, providing studio-quality 24-bit real time audio.

“It is a very different beast,” Crawford said. “This has been a very R&D-intensive project so far.”

Most wireless kits currently available fall into one of two camps, the first being basic old-style radios that are prone to interference. Others are complex and expensive systems used in large venues.

Crawford, who plays guitar in the privacy of his home, said Jack is ideal in that setting.

“The product is very much designed for people like myself who are playing in bedrooms and garages, or dorm rooms or whatever,” he said.

It is estimated that about 50 million people around the world play guitar, with some seven million electric guitars sold annually. Ingenious Audio will initially target the market in North America, and will be represented at next month’s prestigious CES technology show in Las Vegas, followed by the annual gathering of the National Association of Music Merchants in Anaheim, California.