Wireless audio is the largest Bluetooth® solution area, and, though mature, members of the Bluetooth community continue to advance the technology in order to develop new and better solutions to meet growing market demands — whether it’s longer battery life, smaller devices, higher quality, or lower latency. Building on 20 years of innovation, Bluetooth LE Audio, the latest advancement in Bluetooth audio, will not only enhance overall Bluetooth audio performance, but it will also add much-needed support for people with hearing loss.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) worked closely with the hearing aid industry to define and introduce Bluetooth LE Audio, ensuring Bluetooth LE Audio adds support for the development of advanced and standardized Bluetooth hearing aids and improved assistive listening systems (ALS) supported by the introduction of Auracast™ broadcast audio.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

To date, support for Bluetooth® technology in hearing aids has been based on proprietary implementations. As a result, relatively few hearing aids include Bluetooth technology, and compatibility with other devices is limited.

According to Nick Hunn from WiFore Consulting, despite advances in the market, hearing aids still don’t have the flexibility of many consumer earbuds. “I think what we’re going to see is a vast explosion of capabilities for people with hearing aids,” said Hunn. “Everything that today’s Bluetooth headset can do, such as connect to phones, tablets, and TVs, will become standard on hearing aids. That is an absolutely life-changing thing for people with hearing loss. Equally, we’ll see features from the hearing aid industry percolating back into consumer products.”

By standardizing support for Bluetooth technology within hearing aids, Bluetooth LE Audio will drive the availability of more Bluetooth hearing aids and will enable true global interoperability. Thanks to Bluetooth LE Audio, people with hearing loss will be able to take advantage of the same Bluetooth audio benefits enjoyed by users of standard Bluetooth headphones and earbuds, including wireless calling, listening, and viewing.

“Bluetooth LE Audio will be one of the most significant advances for users of hearing aids and hearing implants.” 
– Stefan Zimmer, Secretary General of EHIMA

Also, the stigma of wearing a hearing aid caused many manufacturers to design them to be invisible, fitting behind the ear, not an ideal place for a microphone. With Bluetooth LE Audio, not only is there more flexibility in the design, but the hearing aid can access the microphone in a smartphone to pick up nearby audio and transmit it to the Bluetooth hearing aid, making it much more reliable and easier to hear.

Next-Gen Assistive Listening Systems (ALS)

Enabled by Broadcast Audio, a new feature of Bluetooth LE Audio that will allow an audio source device to broadcast one or more audio streams to an unlimited number of audio sink devices, Auracast™ broadcast audio will enable the next generation of assistive listening systems (ALS) and allow public venues — such as airports, bars, gyms, cinemas, conference centers, places of worship, and more — to use Bluetooth audio to enhance experiences for people with hearing loss. 

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), ALSs are the gateway through which people with hearing loss access the sound being transmitted through a public address system or sound system. An ALS is used to improve hearing for people with hearing loss in situations where they are unable to distinguish speech in noisy environments, such as conference centers, auditoriums, and more.

Nikolai Bisgaard from EHIMA (European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers) says that many large venues around the globe rely on loop systems to assist visitors with hearing loss. A loop system provides a magnetic wireless signal that a hearing aid picks up when set to the T-setting (telecoil). These systems are designed to provide direct sound and cut out unwanted background noise, and they can be used by any number of users at the same time. These systems can be expensive, cumbersome to install, and are sometimes prone to interference. 

While current ALSs, such as inductive loops, have been providing tremendous benefit to people with hearing loss, they suffer from a number of challenges that have limited deployment, including quality, cost, spill-over, and privacy issues. Auracast™ broadcast audio will enable the deployment of an advanced type of ALS with higher audio quality and greater privacy that avoids spill-over challenges and will be easier to deploy at a lower cost. “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,” said Bisgaard.

Lean more about how Bluetooth LE Audio will support greater hearing accessibility.

Master Icon File UC Monitoring Systems

FEATURED INNOVATION

Bluetooth LE Audio

This latest innovation of Bluetooth technology supports a host of new audio features, including low power, high quality, and multi-stream capabilities that will enable hearing aids to bring all the benefits of Bluetooth audio to people with hearing loss.

LEARN MORE

Packetcraft Enables First-to-Market Auracast Broadcaster from Ampetronic and Listen Technologies

Ampetronic and Listen Technologies have rolled out the first Auracast audio broadcaster.

High Praise for Auracast Broadcast Audio After CES 2024

CES 2024 kicked off the year introducing a range of exciting innovations, from TVs…

What's the Range of Auracast Broadcast Audio?

Get the answer to the question everyone’s asking. Find out what the coverage area…

The Auracast Experience – Enabling New Audio Use Cases Beyond Imagination

A few months back, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) held The AuracastTM Experience…

Can You Add Auracast Support to Existing Devices?

Are you waiting for native Auracast™ support? You might not have to. Find out…

Is the Number of Auracast Receivers Really Unlimited?

Not convinced? Learn how an unlimited number of Auracast™ receivers can join a single…

The Best Bluetooth Experience at CES 2024CES 2024で最高のBluetooth体験を

From innovation in automobiles and home entertainment to new achievements in security and robotics,…

Auracast Simple Transmitter Best Practices Guide

This paper provides a set of clear, concise, and useful recommendations for product makers interested in building Auracast transmitter products.

AuracastTM Broadcast Audio Demo from EUHA Conference

In this video, Andrew Bellavia shares his experience demoing the new Auracast™ broadcast audio…

ABI Snapshot – Auracast Retrofit Solutions and Opportunities

Auracast™ product momentum is growing, and one emerging category is Auracast™ retrofit transmitters.

Advancing Audio Accessibility For All

How can we make hearing more inclusive and accessible for all? Get the key…

AuracastTM Product Momentum Is Building

Bluetooth SIG CMO Ken Kolderup shares some exciting news about Auracast™ product availability, along…

Synthesize and Transmit Audio Using LE Audio

The application is assembled as a sound-generating device, the synthesizer, and a receiving headphone.…

The 2023 State of Sound Report: A global analysis of audio consumer behaviors and desires

The State of Sound report compiles key findings from extensive audio research with consumers…

Low Energy Audio – Context Types and Availability

This document explains how Context Type values are used to describe audio use cases…

2023 Bluetooth® Market Update

Featuring new market insights and industry forecasts from ABI Research and other analyst firms...

LE Audio: The Future of Bluetooth® Audio

ABI Research outlines how the arrival of LE Audio is set to transform the Bluetooth audio ecosystem and the impact it will have on Bluetooth® audio market forecasts.

Sizing the Opportunity for Auracast™ Broadcast Audio in Public Locations

Featuring data and research from Strategy Analytics, this report helps readers and decision makers…

Introducing Bluetooth® LE Audio

Now available for free digital download, get your copy of this in-depth, technical overview of the LE Audio specifications.

 Get Help