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Bluetooth’s New Audio Technology

Bluetooth's New Audio Technology

Bluetooth has long become the prevailing consumer audio transmission technology thanks to its convenience more than the quality it provides. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has now announced another new quality-of-life feature that will make it much easier to enjoy content together with friends, families, and bigger audiences. You will soon be able to stream audio to as many receivers as you want thanks to Bluetooth’s upcoming Auracast broadcast audio specification.

Auracast isn’t new-new, per se. It was previously branded as Audio Sharing and is part of the new BluetoothLow Energy (LE) Audio capabilities coming to us all soon, but it looks like the Bluetooth SIG wanted a more compelling name than that. Auracast arguably works better as a name, too, since the feature encompasses much more than just the ability to share audio. For one, Auracast will make multipoint Bluetooth audio much easier, allowing you to join friends and family with your own Bluetooth headphones when they’re watching or listening to something on their devices. Auracast-enabled devices are all compatible with each other, so sharing audio will be a standard capability baked right into your phone, tablet, and earbuds. This also goes for next-generation hearing aids that support Bluetooth LE Audio.

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Auracast isn’t just limited to personal devices, though. The Bluetooth SIG describes that the technology will also allow you to tune into TVs in public spaces (if they support Auracast), allowing you to “unmute our world.” Examples listed by the interest group include silent public TVs in waiting rooms, airports, gyms, and restaurants.

Auracast also aims to bring accessibility and assistive listening technologies to the next level. The Bluetooth SIG writes that when “visiting a public venue such as a transit center, cinema, conference center, or house of worship, visitors will be able to receive audio broadcasts from the public address system directly into their Auracast enabled Bluetooth earbuds or hearing device.” This makes it easy for everyone to tap into a publicly available microphone, making accessibility much more, well, accessible than it previously was. In the past, hearing aid users were able to use FM radio technologies and other more closed-off options to understand a public speaker better, but Auracast will be open for any Auracast enabled audio device, including any old pair of Bluetooth earbuds.

This technology could also be used to send travel announcements right to your earbuds at the airport or train station, though it looks like you would have to connect your device with the public Bluetooth transmitter before getting these announcements blasted right into your ears.

Source: Bluetooth SIG

A Bluetooth SIG mockup showcasing broadcasts using Bluetooth Audio Sharing, the former name used for Auracast

Bluetooth Auracast is part of the Bluetooth LE Audio specification, which is supposed to launch in its final form within the next few months. It will then probably take a while until developers and manufacturers add full support for all the features offered through it, but in the long term, sharing a common audio experience with multiple people will be much easier. Given that a few devices already ship with Bluetooth LE Audio support, we might not even have to wait too long for it to become commonplace.

Right now, the best most Bluetooth headphones and transmitter offer is multi point Bluetooth audio, which allows up to two headphones or speakers to be connected to the same phone or computer.

This content was originally published here.

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