In today’s rapidly advancing technological landscape, the integration of innovative solutions has opened up possibilities for increased accessibility. GN Hearing Japan, a leader in the hearing aid industry, has consistently been at the forefront of these developments, leveraging Bluetooth® technology to transform the lives of individuals with hearing loss.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Atsushi Okubo, product manager for GN Hearing Japan, about their contributions to the development of hearing aid solutions utilizing Auracast™ broadcast audio and how it will change the way people with hearing loss interact with the world around them.

Q&A With Atsushi Okubo From GN Hearing Japan

How were you involved in the development of Auracast™ broadcast audio?

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GN has helped pioneer the use of Bluetooth® connectivity in the hearing aid industry. In 2010, we introduced a direct-wireless device, removing the need for hearing aid users to wear cumbersome neck-worn products. We continued to work with Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) to develop proprietary protocols to stream audio for MFi and Android solutions to support direct phone connections.  

However, it quickly became apparent that the establishment of an industry standard could help reduce complexity and remove barriers to adoption that disadvantaged hearing aid users. Seeing the possibilities of an industry-standard protocol, not only for increased accessibility but also for the wider community, GN helped to set up a hearing aid working group within the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). Since then, GN has taken a leading role in the development of Bluetooth LE Audio. 

How do you think Auracast™ broadcast audio will change the lives of people with hearing loss?

The number one challenge for people with hearing loss is hearing speech in noisy environments, and the ability to connect to other devices and stream audio is one of the biggest drivers of satisfaction, so Auracast™ broadcast audio has the potential to be life changing.   

Existing telecoil loop systems are available in larger venues, but they are not as widely available as they should be due to the cost and complexity of installation. Auracast™ broadcast audio can overcome some of these challenges.   

With Auracast™ broadcast audio, wearers will be able to listen to important announcements in public spaces, live performances in theatres, or movies in cinemas through their hearing aids. They will also be able to share what they are listening to with others around them or join in to watch a movie or hear a song that a friend or family member is enjoying using their hearing aids. 

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Auracast™ Broadcast Audio Retrofit Solutions and Opportunities

This report by ABI Research delves into the opportunity for public spaces to offer new Auracast™ augmented audio experiences and enhanced assistive listening to its occupants and visitors by using cost-effective retrofit Auracast™ solutions, accelerating wider adoption of Auracast™ transmitters as well as receiver devices.


Why did you choose Bluetooth technology over other wireless technologies?

Existing Bluetooth® hearing aids from GN offer an incredible sound experience for people with mild-to-profound hearing loss. They also support audio streaming and hands-free calls from iOS and select Android devices. However one of the biggest demands over the years has been for a direct connection with PCs and the ability to connect seamlessly on multiple devices. 


The needs of people with hearing loss are the same as those of people without: the ability to work in open offices or public spaces, easily take video calls, and connect to multiple multimedia devices at home and on the move. The challenge they face comes from the complication of wearing headsets and hearing aids simultaneously.

When you start mixing streamed and direct sound, as happens with hearing aids, then latency really matters. Bluetooth Classic in this situation can be a challenging experience, whereas Bluetooth LE Audio has much lower latency to meet modern user expectations. 

It also allows for multiple simultaneous connections and hands-free calls with Bluetooth LE Audio compatible devices, as well as higher sound quality with significantly lower battery consumption.  

What do you think people will be most excited about when they use the Auracast™ broadcast audio feature in their hearing aids?

It will be different for different people. Some will find the ability to hear announcements in public places life changing; it will remove anxiety and stress from travel, for example. For others, it will be the ability to tune in to specific screens in sports bars or the gym. And for everyone who has tried to listen to music or watch a film on the go by sharing headphones with a sibling or friend, the ability to share audio will be revolutionary. 

How do you think Auracast™ broadcast audio will impact the hearing aid market?

With the introduction of Auracast™ broadcast audio, it will become possible to hear public announcements in public places such as railway stations, buses, and airports. At the same time, the use of Auracast™ broadcast audio in private spaces, such as listening to audio from a TV, will also increase. Consequently, the use of Auracast™ broadcast audio will grow in both public places and private spaces.

By creating a level connectivity playing field between hearing technology and consumer electronics, we hope the implementation of Bluetooth® LE Audio and Auracast™ broadcast audio will remove some of the barriers experienced by individuals with hearing loss and bring hearing technology into the mainstream. This will ultimately lead to a more inclusive and connected society where individuals with hearing loss can fully participate in all aspects of life.


The Auracast™ Experience

The Auracast™ Experience is a global series of immersive demonstration events that allow visitors to experience some of the ways Auracast™ broadcast audio will help our world sound better.



Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオを活用した補聴器ソリューションの開発に対する貢献と、この新技術が難聴者と周囲の世界との関わり方にいかに変化をもたらすかについて、同社プロダクトマネージャーの大久保淳さんにお話を伺いました。

Q: Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオの開発にはどのような形で関わられましたか?

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GNは、補聴器業界におけるBluetooth®接続のパイオニアとして貢献してきました。2010年にはダイレクトワイヤレスを搭載した補聴器を発表し、補聴器ユーザーが煩わしい首かけ型製品を装着する必要性をなくしました。その後もBluetooth Low Energy (LE)と連携し、MFiやアンドロイドで音声をストリーミングする独自のプロトコルを開発し、電話と補聴器のダイレクト接続を実現しました。

しかし間もなく、業界標準の確立が、簡素化や、不利な立場に置かれた補聴器ユーザーにとっての導入障壁を取り除くために役立つことが明らかになりました。アクセシビリティの向上だけでなく、より広いコミュニティのためにも業界標準プロトコルの可能性を見出したGNは、Bluetooth Special Interest GroupSIG)内の補聴器ワーキンググループの設立を支援しました。それ以来、GNBluetooth LE Audioの開発において主導的な役割を果たしています。

Q: 消費者が現在経験している補聴器に関する課題はどのようなもので、Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオはそれらの課題の解決にどう役立つでしょうか?Auracast™ は難聴者の生活をどのように変えると思われますか?

難聴者にとっての第一の課題は、騒がしい環境での会話の聞き取りであり、これが補聴器購入のきっかけとなっています。しかし、購入後には、他の機器に接続したり、音声を補聴器にストリーミングできることは満足度を高める最大の要因の1つとなっています。したがって、Auracast ™ ブロードキャスト オーディオは、人生を変える可能性を秘めています。 

既存のテレコイル・ループ・システムは、大きな会場では利用可能ですが、コストと設置の複雑さのため、それほど広く普及していません。Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオは、これらの課題を克服することができるでしょう。 

Auracast ™ ブロードキャスト オーディオを使えば、補聴器装用者は、例えば公共の場での重要なアナウンスや劇場でのライブパフォーマンス、映画館では映画の音声を補聴器を通して聴くことができます。また、自身が聴いているオーディオを周囲の人々と共有したり、映画視聴を一緒に楽しんだり、友人や家族が楽しんでいる曲を自身の補聴器を使用して一緒に聴くことができます。

Q: 他のワイヤレス技術ではなく Bluetooth 技術を選択した理由を教えてください。

リサウンドの既存のBluetooth®補聴器は、軽度から高度難聴の方に、驚くようなサウンド体験を提供します。また、iOSや一部のAndroid端末からの音声ストリーミングやハンズフリー通話にも対応しています。 しかし、長年にわたる最大の要望のひとつは、パソコンとの直接接続と、複数の機器とのシームレスな接続機能でした。



補聴器の使用時に、ストリーミングによる音声と直接聞こえる音声が同時に聞こえる場合には、音の遅延は非常に問題になります。このような状況でのBluetooth Classicの使用は困難を伴う可能性がありますが、Bluetooth LE Audioは今のユーザーの期待に応えるべく、遅延を大幅に低減しています。

また、Bluetooth LE Audio対応機器との複数同時接続やハンズフリー通話も可能で、バッテリー消費を大幅に抑えながら高音質を実現します。 

 Q: 補聴器でAuracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオ機能を活用する人々は、どのような点に最も喜びや興奮を覚えると思われますか?


Q:  Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオは補聴器市場にどのような影響を与えると思われますか?Auracast™は日本でどのように成長すると予想していますか?

Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオの導入により、鉄道の駅やバス、空港などの公共の場所で公共のアナウンスを聞くことができるようになります。一方でTVから音声をAuracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオを通して聞くようなプライベート空間での使用も増えていき、公共の場所・プライベート空間どちらも共にAuracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオを使用することが増えていくでしょう。

Bluetooth LE AudioAuracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオの導入により、難聴者が経験する障壁が取り除かれ、聴覚テクノロジーが主流になることを期待しています。これによって、難聴者が生活のあらゆる場面に参加できる、より包括的でつながりのある社会がもたらされるでしょう。

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