Thanks to its ability to enhance Bluetooth® audio performance, support a new generation of hearing aids, and enable Bluetooth Audio Sharing, LE Audio is expected to power significant device volume and use case growth over the next five years. According to the 2021 Bluetooth Market Update, the anticipated completion of the LE Audio specifications will drive greater demand for Bluetooth earbuds, speakers, and hearing accessibility devices, resulting in 1.5x growth in annual Bluetooth Audio Streaming device shipments from 2021 through 2025.

New Audio Streaming Trends

Stripping away the hassle of wires on headphones, speakers, and more, Bluetooth® technology continues to revolutionize audio, changing the way we consume media and experience the world. It’s therefore no surprise that Bluetooth Audio Streaming is the largest Bluetooth technology solution area. Driven by greater demand for wireless headphones and speakers, more Bluetooth Audio Streaming devices will ship annually than any other Bluetooth solution area, leading to a forecast of 1.3 billion Bluetooth Audio Streaming devices predicted to ship this year.

Bluetooth® headphones, including earbuds, lead the audio streaming device category. Analysts predict LE Audio will help expand the Bluetooth earbuds market. With its new low-power, high-quality codec and support for true multi-stream audio, LE Audio is expected to significantly boost Bluetooth earbuds shipments. 152 million Bluetooth earbuds shipped in 2020, and market forecasts indicate that this number will climb to 521 million annual device shipments by 2025.

“Wireless headset products tend to be more customized in order to meet specific use cases — such as sports/exercise suitability, gaming and entertainment, professional usage, and medical assistance — and different consumer groups, from casual listeners to travelers to professionals.” 
– ABI Research

 

But Bluetooth headphones are not the only audio devices expected to see a surge in growth over the next five years. TVs increasingly rely on Bluetooth® connectivity to deliver premium home audio and entertainment experiences, contributing to an anticipated 150 million annual shipments by 2025. The demand for Bluetooth speakers also continues to rise. 94 percent of all speakers now include Bluetooth technology, and ABI Research forecasts that nearly 350 million Bluetooth speakers will ship this year, increasing to 423 million annual shipments by 2025.

The Next Generation of Bluetooth Audio

Building on 20 years of innovation, LE Audio will improve the performance of Bluetooth® audio, add support for Bluetooth hearing aids, and introduce Bluetooth Audio Sharing – an innovative new use case that will enhance the audio experience for more people around the world. 

LE Audio will also accelerate the adoption of Bluetooth hearing assistance devices. According to the World Health Organization, 1.5 billion people around the world live with some form of hearing loss, and the gap between those who need hearing assistance and those who use hearing devices continues to grow. LE Audio will play an important role in closing that gap, supporting more choice, greater accessibility, and true global interoperability of hearing assistance devices for people with hearing loss.

Bluetooth Audio Sharing

Enabled by Broadcast Audio, a new feature of LE Audio that will allow an audio source device to broadcast one or more audio streams to an unlimited number of audio sink devices, Bluetooth® Audio Sharing will let personal audio experiences be shared with nearby friends and family. It will also allow public venues to use Bluetooth audio to enhance experiences for their visitors.

LE Audio will help improve and evolve the consumer experience by enabling seamless Audio Sharing, whether sharing your personal audio broadcast with family and friends around you, translation of audio into native language at a conference, or making sure someone with hearing loss doesn’t miss an announcement at the airport,” said James Chapman, Qualcomm’s vice president and general manager of voice, music, and wearables. “The technology makes it possible to help deliver very exciting new use cases with the potential to enhance our everyday lives.”

“It’s going to be a great move into a world where you can connect to sources in the public space and with better quality, less interference, and at a much lower installation cost.” 
– Nikolai Bisgaard, EHIMA

With location-based Bluetooth Audio Sharing, groups of people will be able to hear the same audio on their headsets, tuning into TVs in airports, bars, and gyms. Bluetooth Audio Sharing in public venues will meet the needs of more individuals in large environments and enable the next generation of assistive listening systems (ALS). Cinemas, conference centers, lecture halls, and places of worship will also use Bluetooth Audio Sharing to assist visitors with hearing loss as well as simultaneously interpret audio into the listener’s native language. 

For more Bluetooth® technology trends and forecasts, download the 2021 Bluetooth Market Update.

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