There’s a new Bluetooth variant coming out in the coming months and you should know about it, because it will bring significant changes to the way we share audio – some of them life-changing.
This new feature, formerly known as audio sharing, is now called Auracast audio streaming. Essentially, Auracast allows an audio transmitter (read: smartphone, tablet, laptop, TV or PA system) to stream audio to an unlimited number of nearby Bluetooth audio receivers, including portable speakers, wireless headphones real or hearing devices.
Now, Apple AirPods owners already have a custom way to share audio across multiple headphones, but only with other Apple headphones or Beats. With this new Bluetooth release, you’ll be able to share audio from one device to multiple headphones, and they don’t have to be AirPods.
There is still no confirmation on exactly which devices will receive Auracast. It uses Bluetooth LE Audio to work, which is part of Bluetooth 5.2, but we ask for clarification and will update this post with more information.
Analysis: Auracast is huge, just consider the implications
“The launch of Auracast streaming audio will trigger another major shift in the wireless audio market,” said Mark Powell, CEO of Bluetooth SIG, adding, “The ability to stream and share audio using Bluetooth technology will reshape personal audio and enable audiences and spaces to deliver audio experiences that will improve visitor satisfaction and increase accessibility.”
Certainly, for hearing aid wearers, the implications are huge here – even life changing. Sure, Auracast will allow everyone to invite a friend to enjoy our curated playlist without having to sacrifice one of our own headphones (provided they brought theirs), but we’ll also be able to watch TV in public spaces. Think of those silent TVs in public places like airports, gyms and waiting rooms. They will soon be able to stream audio that any visitor with Auracast-enabled headphones or hearing aids can access.
Now, imagine being in an airport. Essential flight announcements, gate changes, departure times and other travel information can be accessed directly on your personal audio device from the airport’s public address system.
“While current assisted listening systems such as inductive loops have provided great benefits for people with hearing loss, they suffer from several challenges that have limited their deployment, including poor quality, high cost and lack of privacy,” he said. Nick Hunn, CTO of WiFore. “Auracast broadcast audio is well positioned to become a new and advanced assistive listening system that will be significantly easier and less costly to deploy, offering higher audio quality and greater privacy, improving audio accessibility and promoting a better through better hearing.”
Given that by 2035, it is predicted that around 14.2 million (opens in new tab) adults will have hearing loss in excess of 25 dBHL across the UK, this is welcome news.