“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.