Lower Latency, Lower Power Consumption & Better Audio Quality
Hearing aids, unlike earbuds, often must be turned on all day. Bluetooth LE Audio adds lower latency, lower power consumption, and better sound quality to Bluetooth® hearing aid devices, allowing developers to offer more features without impacting the battery life. The effect this will have on the next generation of hearing aids cannot be understated. “We’ve made great strides toward rechargeable hearing aids, but we also have these zinc-air batteries that can last five to seven days,” said Jeff Solum, wireless system architect with Starkey Hearing Technologies. “We want to create this new wireless system, this new ecosystem, without impacting the battery life of what a hearing aid wearer has been used to over the years. And Bluetooth LE Audio allows us to do it.”
“The real change that Bluetooth® LE Audio is going to make is that everything that is accessible for an earbud consumer is now going to be accessible to someone with a hearing aid.”
– Nick Hunn, WiFore Consulting
Including low latency and high-quality audio into Bluetooth LE Audio will enable a smartphone to be used as an external microphone, allowing you to point the phone at people you are conversing with, stream that audio directly to your hearing aid, and benefit from better sound quality. “Imagine a network of Bluetooth LE Audio phones that could stream into your hearing aid and provide you with sound quality and comprehension that’s even better than what people who do not use hearing aids experience,” said Richard Einhorn, consultant at Einhorn Consulting, LLC.
Once hearing aids can provide the same connectivity performance as other audio devices, hearing aids become destigmatized. “I think for hearing aids, the real change that Bluetooth LE Audio is going to make is that everything that is accessible for an earbud consumer is now going to be accessible to someone with a hearing aid,” said Hunn. “I hope Bluetooth LE Audio it is going to be one of the things that helps reduce the stigma so we soon think about hearing aids the same way we think about glasses. It’s just something that we need to help enjoy all those everyday experiences.”
Auracast™ Broadcast Audio
Auracast™ broadcast audio is another major innovation to come out of Bluetooth LE Audio for hearing aid users. Auracast™ broadcast audio is a standardized method for public broadcasting, and it holds the potential to change the way in which we experience the world around us.
Thanks to Auracast™ broadcast audio, nearly everyone will be able to experience the benefits of broadcast audio across a wide range of venues, private or public. Public locations – including conference centers, movie theaters, transportation centers, places of worship, and more – will deploy Auracast™ broadcast audio to promote better living through better hearing for everyone. “We can now have an infinite number of listeners on one Bluetooth® stream, and that can be used in a lot of scenarios – from silent TVs in sports bars to public announcements in transportation centers,” said Einhorn.
Auracast™ broadcast audio allows any receiver to receive an audio signal without connecting and pairing, letting you share music from your phone to multiple people around you. This use case is further expanded when you consider restaurants or transportation hubs with multiple muted TVs. Thanks to Auracast™ broadcast audio, you will be able to use your phone to scan for all available broadcast streams and select the stream you want to hear. That audio will come directly into your headset, earbuds, or hearing aids, automatically synchronizing between both sides.
“Auracast™ broadcast audio takes us to social audio, enabling it to be shared with more people and creating a common experience.”
– Joel Linsky, Qualcomm
“When you think about Auracast™ broadcast audio, when you look at public places like airports, bars, train stations, or shopping malls, you will soon be able to connect to an Auracast™ broadcast audio stream,” said Kanji Kerai, wireless system engineer with Meta Platforms, Inc. “Users will be able to select from the available broadcast streams on their phone and hear it straight in their earbuds. That is a very powerful feature, and it will enhance wireless audio for years to come.”
Auracast™ broadcast audio also has the capability to create a social audio experience. Much of how we consume media today can be isolating. For many, it is a way to shut out the outside world. “Bluetooth® audio has been about personal audio,” said Joel Linsky, VP of Technology at Qualcomm. “It’s my audio between my devices, and I have those experiences. Auracast™ broadcast audio takes us to social audio, enabling it to be shared with more people and creating a common experience.”
A Future With Auracast™ Broadcast Audio
Solution providers can now qualify their devices to use the Auracast™ name and trademark when they launch a new product, ensuring interoperability with other Auracast™ devices, such as earbuds or headphones. Whenever you see that logo displayed on devices, it will guarantee interoperability in participating public venues. “Venues can put in a broadcast Bluetooth LE Audio transmitter, and if it meets the requirements for Auracast™ broadcast audio, then they can put a sign up saying Auracast broadcast audio is here, much in the same way that places used to put up a Wi-Fi sign,” said Hunn. “Anybody going into that venue – whether it’s a café, a bar, a bus, an airport, etc. – will know that they can use their Auracast™ capable earbuds or hearing aid to pick up and listen to whatever’s being broadcasted.”