LE Audio is the next generation of audio performance. Improving lives and audio experiences, it is no surprise that major technology companies like Sony Corporation are choosing LE Audio for their wireless audio needs.
I recently spoke with Sony’s Masahiko Seki about the challenges LE Audio is solving, how LE Audio will impact our lives in the near future, and the upcoming changes to look forward to across the wireless audio market.
Q&A With Masahiko Seki From Sony
What led to your participation in the LE Audio working group?
Sony has been involved in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) for some time now, particularly in the Audio, Automotive, and Telephony Working Group (ATAWG) in relation to developing audio-related specifications. Discussions were already underway to create LE Audio streaming specifications for hearing aids, but since it could replace A2DP, we, at Sony, decided to look into using it for applications other than hearing aids to enhance audio experiences and convenience. In 2017, we submitted a new work proposal – LE High Quality Audio – to the Bluetooth SIG, setting in motion discussions in the ATAWG. Those discussions led to the development of the Telephony and Media Audio Profile (TMAP), which is one of the LE Audio specifications.
What wireless audio challenges will LE Audio address?
The biggest is streaming latency, which LE Audio helps improve. A2DP is an asynchronous transmission profile that uses ACL transport, which requires many buffers that may cause some delays. This results in lag between image and sound that needs to be fixed by delaying video or some other mechanism. This also makes A2DP unsuitable for interactive usages such as video games. LE Audio uses LE Isochronous Channels, a feature introduced in Bluetooth® Core Specification version 5.2 that enables time-synchronized audio streaming. As a result, fewer buffers are needed, and delays are shorter. This enables audio streaming that is better suited to movies, video games, etc.
LE Audio also supports Auracast™ broadcast audio, which is not supported by Bluetooth® Classic Audio. This would enable first-ever usage scenarios such as streaming audio from a single TV to multiple enabled headphones for simultaneous listening by several people, or streaming announcements direct to any Bluetooth enabled device, such as headsets within range in airports and other similar public places.
What Product Developers & Public Locations Need to Know About Auracast™ Broadcast Audio
Watch this discussion on how Auracast™ broadcast audio will introduce new opportunities for wireless audio developers and allow public locations to enhance their visitor satisfaction while increasing audio accessibility for all.
How will the introduction of LE Audio and Auracast™ broadcast audio benefit consumers and enhance their audio experiences?
LE Audio offers technical advantages such as low-latency transmission and broadcast streaming. Using it for gaming headphone wireless communications, for example, enables the kind of low-latency transmission that is difficult to achieve with the conventional Bluetooth® Classic Audio. For gameplay too, this low latency, together with the stability of the connection, ensures hassle-free audio streaming. Then there’s airport boarding announcements and other such announcements in public places where ambient noise otherwise makes hearing such announcements difficult. LE Audio’s broadcast communication support enables simultaneous streaming of announcements or music to any number of headphones or hearing aids. You can also share TV and other content with family and friends. LE Audio enables user experiences like these that were impossible with Bluetooth Classic Audio.
“LE Audio’s broadcast communication support enables simultaneous streaming of announcements or music to any number of headphones or hearing aids.”
What has you most excited about LE Audio?
We hope that the way LE Audio supports low latency, broadcast, and other functions will drive its broad use not only for conventional music streaming and call functions, but also for video games, public announcements, and other scenarios in which its use enhances user experience and convenience. Also, we feel that simultaneously transmitting tracking and other sensor data with Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) will enable smooth audio streaming less prone to audio dropout. We anticipate that speeding up Bluetooth LE will, in the future, enable better sound quality, lower power consumption, greater connection stability, and other performance improvements that expand the specification.
What new directions will Sony explore based on LE Audio R&D?
We will eventually enable our Bluetooth® audio products to support LE Audio as well as Bluetooth Classic. LE Audio’s low latency, broadcast capability, and other new features create possibilities for products that offer convenience and support innovative first-ever usage scenarios. We feel that low latency is especially important for improving gaming experiences and video viewing. We feel that LE Audio, including Auracast™ broadcast audio, will open new horizons in Bluetooth audio.
Auracast™ Broadcast Audio
Auracast™ broadcast audio will deliver life-changing audio experiences that will enhance the way you engage with others and the world around you.
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