As first reported by Filipe Espósito at 9to5mac.com, a recent filing to the FCC reveals that Electronics manufacturer Belkin (the company also behind Wemo) are preparing a new device that will act as an AirPlay 2 device, allowing audio to be transmitted to audio devices, like amplifiers, powered speakers, sound bars etc.
The device, listed in the filing as the ‘Belkin Soundform Connect‘ has a 3.5mm audio out port, for use with standard analogue hardware, as well as an Optical Audio output for the cleanest digital output possible. It would also appear to use a USB-C port for power (good!).
As it would be an AirPlay 2 device, it will also gain HomeKit support as standard, much like the HomePod, HomePod Mini, or even the 2nd gen Airport Express, which also has a digital out. Of course, the Airport Express has long since been out of production, so this new product will be a welcome addition to the growing list of devices that support AirPlay 2, whilst also adding ‘smarts’ to older HiFi equipment.
It also shows, from looking at the PDF diagram, that the Soundform Connect will come with a built-in NFC Chip, to add the device without even needing to scan the number or a QR code. NFC chips for HomeKit devices aren’t too common, although you can find them on some Nanoleaf devices, including the new Nanoleaf light Strip, along with a few other products from other companies.
One cheaper option already available, although only in China, is the updated Terncy Home Center ‘Braun’, which is in the first instance, a Zigbee 3.0 hub for the company’s growing lineup of Zigbee accessories, but also includes an analogue output that is also AirPlay 2 certified. This would be a cheaper option than the Belkin, which, if the rumours are correct, appears to be gearing up to be selling for around US$120, or €96.