For decades, GN has leveraged their intelligent hearing, audio, video, and gaming solutions to bring people closer together. Delivering technology that can enhance hearing and sight, GN helps people with hearing loss overcome real-life challenges, they improve communication and collaboration for businesses, and they provide better experiences for audio and gaming enthusiasts.

Recently, I had an opportunity to hear from Scott Davis, hearing division president at GN, on their role in the development of Bluetooth® LE Audio and the impact Auracast™ broadcast audio will soon have on the market.

Q&A With Scott Davis From GN

What has been your involvement in the development of Bluetooth LE Audio?

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GN pioneered the use of Bluetooth® connectivity in the hearing aid industry. In 2010, we introduced the first 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 lack of an industry standard was creating complexity and a barrier 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.

What has been the biggest demand from your customers as it relates to Bluetooth® technology and hearing aids?

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. The biggest demands over the years have been for a direct connection with PCs and the ability to connect seamlessly with multiple devices.

How can Auracast™ broadcast audio be used in your solutions?

We believe Auracast™ broadcast audio will be revolutionary for hearing aid users.

We believe Auracast™ broadcast audio will be revolutionary for hearing aid users. In public spaces, such as airports or railway stations, it will make information more readily accessible, removing a lot of the stress and anxiety associated with travel. In conferences, theatres, and places of worship, it will eliminate the effort (and associated) frustration needed to hear the voice of the speaker.

Then, when you start thinking of the possibility of streaming in multiple languages simultaneously, the opportunities and benefits are so exciting. Even in a private setting, we envision an environment where a GN hearing aid wearer can invite friends over to watch the game and share their audio so that everyone is able to access the stream, regardless of which brand of hearing aid they are wearing. That’s the beauty of industry standards.

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LE Audio: The Future of Bluetooth® Audio

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Can you explain the difference between Auracast™ broadcast audio hearing aids and existing Bluetooth hearing aids from GN?

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.

ReSound Nexia hearing aids build on that. Equipped with Bluetooth LE Audio, they allow multiple simultaneous connections and hands-free calls with Bluetooth LE Audio compatible devices, as well as higher sound quality with significantly lower battery consumption. 

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With Auracast™ broadcast audio, wearers will be able to hear important announcements in public spaces through their hearing aids, stream audio whenever they want, and share audio with family and friends, transforming how users experience audio in private and public spaces.   

What challenges are consumers currently experiencing with hearing aids, and how do you see Auracast™ broadcast audio changing lives for individuals with hearing loss? 

The number one challenge for people with hearing loss is hearing speech in noisy backgrounds, and this drives most hearing aid purchases. However, post purchase, 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. 

What is the latency that can be achieved using Bluetooth LE Audio, and how is this different from what it was before?

With Bluetooth® Classic Audio, the latency is high, as it is built for headsets for phones: the listener is far away from the person they are talking to and, therefore, doesn’t notice the delay. When you start mixing streamed and direct sound, as happens with hearing aids, then latency really matters. Bluetooth Classic Audio in this situation can be a challenging experience, whereas Bluetooth LE Audio has much lower latency to meet modern user expectations.

Auracast™ broadcast audio is engineered for flexibility to support smaller rooms as well as large venues like theaters and auditoriums. The challenge here is to deliver high sound quality and minimal latency, and Auracast™ broadcast audio is devised to support both.

Since GN is one of the first to market with Auracast™ hearing aids, what type of education is needed to move forward with adoption for consumers? 

For us, it’s educating hearing care professionals. Most hearing care professionals support their clients by pairing their aids to devices, but it can be complicated, time consuming, and frustrating. We need to help them understand that with Bluetooth® LE Audio, connectivity will be simpler, quicker, and much easier to communicate to their clients so that they can be our champions.

What do you think people will be most excited about when they experience Bluetooth LE Audio and Auracast™ broadcast audio in your hearing aids?

The thing that has surprised us most is the sound quality. It’s even better than before, and that’s saying something.

I think 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 direct connectivity to multiple devices, such as PCs and tablets, or being able 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.

The thing that has surprised us most is the sound quality. It’s even better than before, and that’s saying something.

At GN, we’ve worked closely with Bluetooth® technology for many years, but it is still exciting when you see technology that you have been instrumental in developing come to market. And it’s even more exciting when you realize that you are not alone and you see other compatible products being launched. We are proud to be leading the way with this technology, and we can’t wait until it becomes available to more and more people.


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.



先日、GNの補聴器部門責任者のスコット・デイビス(Scott Davis)氏に、Bluetooth®︎ LE Audioの開発における同社の役割と、Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオが今後市場にもたらす影響について、お話を伺う機会がありました。


LE Audioの開発にはどのように関わられましたか。

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GNは、補聴器業界におけるBluetooth®︎接続活用の先駆者でした。2010年に最初のワイヤレスデバイスを発売し、補聴器ユーザーが煩わしい首掛け式製品を装着せずに済むようにしました。その後Bluetooth LEについてもMFIとアンドロイドでのオーディオストリーミング用に独自プロトコルの開発を進め、スマートフォンとの直接接続を実現してきました。


その一方で、業界標準の欠如が状況を複雑にし、普及への障壁となって補聴器ユーザーに不利に働いていることもすぐに明らかになりました。GNでは、業界標準プロトコルがアクセシビリティ向上だけでなく、より広範なコミュニティにメリットをもたらす可能性があると考え、Bluetooth SIG(Special Interest Group)内部での補聴器ワーキンググループの立ち上げに参加しました。以来、GNはBluetooth LE Audioの開発に主導的な役割を果たしています。



Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオを御社製品でどのように活用できるとお考えですか。

当社では、Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオは補聴器ユーザーにとって革命的な変化をもたらすと考えています。空港や駅などの公共の場で情報へのアクセスが容易になり、移動に伴うストレスや不安の多くが軽減されます。会議場、劇場、礼拝施設などでは、話者の声を聞き取るための労力と、それに関連して生じる不満やストレスが軽減されます。


Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオ対応補聴器と、GNの既存のBluetooth対応補聴器との違いを教えていただけますか。


ReSound Nexiaの補聴器は、これを土台にさらに強化されています。Bluetooth LE Audioを搭載し、Bluetooth LE Audio対応デバイスとの複数同時接続とハンズフリー通話が可能です。同時にバッテリー消費をかなり抑えながらも高音質を実現しています。

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Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオによって、補聴器ユーザーは公共の場での重要な場内放送を補聴器で聞いたり、オーディオをいつでもストリーミングで楽しんだり、友人や家族とのオーディオ共有が可能になります。プライベートでも公共の場でも、ユーザーのオーディオ体験は大きく変わることになるでしょう。

補聴器に関してユーザーが今まさに経験している課題はどのようなもので、Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオは難聴者個々の生活をどのように変えると思われますか。

難聴者にとって最大の課題は騒がしい場所での話の聴き取りで、補聴器購入の最大の動機となっています。ただし購入後は、他の機器との接続やオーディオストリーミング機能が満足度を最も大きく左右します。そのため、Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオはユーザーにまったく新しい毎日をもたらす可能性を備えています。

既存のテレコイルシステムは比較的大規模な施設では利用可能ですが、コスト面や設置の難しさから、本来あるべき規模にまで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、こうした課題の一部を克服できます。

Bluetooth LE Audioではどの程度の低遅延性が実現でき、従来とはどのように異なりますか。

Bluetooth®︎ Classic Audioは、電話のヘッドセット向けに開発されたため高遅延性ですが、通話の相手から遠く離れているため遅延に気付くことはありません。ところが、補聴器のようにストリーミングの音声と直接聞こえる音声が混じる状況では、遅延性は極めて重要になります。このような場合、Bluetooth Classic Audioでは状況は困難になり得ます。Bluetooth LE Audioは現代のユーザーの期待に応えられるよう、はるかに低い遅延性を実現しています。

Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオは、小規模な部屋でも劇場やホールなどの大規模施設でも、同じように対応できる柔軟性を念頭に開発されています。ここで課題になるのは高音質と同時に遅延を最小に抑えることで、Auracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオはその両方を実現できるよう工夫されています。


当社の場合は、聴覚ケアの専門家に対する啓蒙ということになります。聴覚ケアの専門家の大多数は顧客対応の一環として補聴器とデバイスのペアリングも行っていますが、その作業は複雑で時間がかかり、ストレスの溜まるものとなり得ます。当社が彼らに理解してもらう必要があるのは、Bluetooth®︎ LE Audioであれば接続がよりシンプルかつ短時間で可能であり、ユーザーに伝えることもはるかに容易だということです。そうすることで、当社の熱心な支持者になってもらえます。

GNの補聴器でBluetooth LE AudioとAuracast™ ブロードキャスト オーディオを体験したときに最も喜ばれる点は何でしょうか。




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