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Khronos aims to ease coding for audio, video hardware

Standards group releases OpenSL ES 1.1 and OpenMax AL 1.1 standard interfaces to let applications tap into audio and video hardware.

OpenSL ES and OpenMax AL diagram
Two updated standards from the Khronos Group: OpenSL ES and OpenMax AL The Khronos Group

The Khronos Group today released updates to two interfaces designed to make it easier for programmers to tap into the power of computing hardware.

First is OpenSL ES 1.1, an interface for C programmers to use sound hardware on mobile devices. The interface abstracts technologies such as graphic equalizer processing, reverberation or 3D spatial Doppler effects, playback and volume controls, and audio data recording.

The purpose of the interface is to liberate programmers from having to recraft their applications each time a new device arrives with a different, often proprietary interface. Khronos released profiles tailored for phones, music players, and gaming devices.

Second is OpenMax AL 1.1, which provides an interface to video and audio codecs. The AL stands for the specification's application-level interface; using it on supported systems, programmers can write software in a standard way to either read data from input devices such as cameras, TV tuners, and microphones or output devices such as headphones, phone vibration devices, and digital TVs.

The Khronos Group got its start standardizing an SGI-spawned graphics interface called OpenGL that provides a way for software to tap into 2D and 3D graphics chip power without knowing particulars of those chips.

Although Microsoft's DirectX interfaces dominate on Windows, OpenGL is used on Mac OS X and Linux, and with Windows design software. More notably, in the mobile market where Microsoft is comparatively weak, OpenGL ES, the embedded version, is supported both with iOS and Android, making it an incumbent standard in that market when it comes to game graphics. OpenGL ES also is the basis for WebGL, a 3D Web graphics technology supported by four of the top five browser makers--all but Microsoft.