Linux to Feature Xbox 5.1 Surround SoundSurround sound 5.1 technology used in Microsoft's XBox will arrive in a "completely unrelated channel" in 2004, according to Empower Technologies, which today announced a three-year cross-licensing deal with audio specialist Spherex involving a Linux-based "intelligent multi-function audio device" of unspecified nature. Empower is best known for its inexpensive PowerPlay series of Linux-based PDAs. The company emphasized its intent to comply with the GPL after running into licensing issues involving its Palm-like LinuxDA operating system in 2001. Spherex's Optimized Surround Sound technology is used in Microsoft's Xbox 5.1 audio system. Spherex is a wholly owned subsidiary of API of Toronto, Canada, which claims to be North America's largest loudspeaker manufacturer, with brand names including Mirage, Energy, and Athena. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will jointly develop a device using Spherex Optimized Surround Sound technology and Empower's embedded operating system and circuitry. The device will be manufactured and sold by Spherex under various brands, while Empower will also be able to OEM or license the design to consumer electronics manufacturers to sell under their own labels. Empower founder Paul Leung said, "The Xbox 5.1 Surround Sound System [is] the best immersive sound for video games, home theaters, and music playback. We look forward to achieving the same result in a completely unrelated channel."