The FUTURE of Hearing Aid Bluetooth! | Auracast

Dr. Cliff Olson discusses developments in Bluetooth technology and what that means for hearing aids and hearing aid users.

The FUTURE of Hearing Aid Bluetooth! | Auracast

Video transcript

Video transcript

Hi guys. Cliff Olson, Doctor of Audiology and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. And in this video I'm talking about a new futuristic form of hearing a Bluetooth called Auracast. Coming up!

A few years back, I talked about a new form of Bluetooth called LE Audio that uses an LC3 Codec that would eventually replace all other forms of Bluetooth inside of hearing aids. Back in 2013, it was actually hearing aid manufacturers who initiated this conversation with the Bluetooth special interest group, otherwise known as the SIG because they wanted a single Bluetooth standard instead of multiple standards. Well, recently this SIG finally announced that they completed the specifications for this new form of LE Audio, and they have trademarked it. Auracast Bluetooth is going to completely revolutionize the future of wireless connectivity inside of hearing aids as well as other consumer audio devices. But before I explain how, if you could do me a huge favor and click the like button, it really helps out my channel because it gets these videos in front of a broader audience.

And while you're at it, if you have not yet hit that subscribe button with notification bell, go ahead and do that as well, because that ensures that you never miss one of my newly released videos, and I release multiple new videos every single week. That being said, I really appreciate it. Now let's go ahead and take a look at what Auracast is gonna be able to do and why it will change hearing aids forever. First and foremost, Auracast is going to allow for better streaming audio quality at a lower bit rate. Basically, this means that even though the LC3 Codec will have to compress the audio signal, the degradation of audio quality will be virtually inperceptible and the latency will be lower than any other forms of Bluetooth that have come before it. Here's a comparison of the new LC3 Codec used with Auracast compared to the SBC Codec used in other forms of Bluetooth.

The higher the bar is closer to five, the better the sound quality when streaming audio. Just in case you're confused, the difference using Auracast when it comes to sound quality is massive. Second, Auracast will reduce battery drain, which is fantastic when you start thinking about hearing aids and how small they are. When you think about it, hearing aids have very small batteries inside of them. So when you wanna be wearing those hearing aids from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to bed, for some heavy hearing aid users, that could be upwards of 18 hours per day. And if you're gonna be streaming a lot with your hearing aids, you wanna make sure that those hearing aids last all of that time. Since the wireless transfer rate has been cut virtually in half with this new form of Bluetooth, you should be able to stream into your hearing aids virtually all day long without having to worry about running out of battery.

And third, and perhaps the most exciting new feature made possible by Auracast is broadcast audio streaming. Up to this point, no form of Bluetooth has ever allowed multiple users to share one single audio stream between them. For hearing aid users, the closest thing that we had available to do this was a hearing loop with a telecoil inside of a hearing aid. So if you go into a public venue, if they have a hearing hearing loop installed that they're feeding audio into from their soundboard, multiple hearing aid users could turn on their Telecoil function and pull that audio directly into their hearing aids. The problem is not everybody has a telecoil inside their hearing aids, and a lot of public venues don't know what a hearing loop is. It might cost them too much or there might be physical barriers to installation. The good news is, is that the vast majority of hearing aids will likely have this new Bluetooth capability and public venues will only have to purchase an Auracast Bluetooth transmitter to transmit to everybody at their public venue.

This will likely be much less expensive for these venues to have and much easier to install. With Auracast, a single Bluetooth signal will be able to be transmitted to anybody who has an Auracast enabled hearing aid, earbud or headphone. Just imagine going to a public venue like a church, an airport, a Broadway show, or a sporting event, and being able to tap into the Bluetooth audio stream of that public venue. On top of that, think about going to like a sports bar where they have like 15 different TVs with different games going on and being able to pick out the exact TV that you wanna listen to because you can connect to it with your hearing aids. All that said, you're probably wondering how you're actually going to be able to select the audio stream that you want to listen to. The process will likely be as easy as connecting to a wifi signal.

You would be able to use a smart device connected to your hearing aids and select the audio stream you want to listen to. Or it could be as simple as just scanning a QR code to activate an audio stream or simply tap an Auracast button on your phone to activate the audio stream as well. I should also clarify that you will be able to share your audio stream with somebody else who has Auracast enabled devices as well. For instance, just imagine that you're flying in an airplane and you're watching a movie on your tablet and you wanna be able to hear the movie, but the person that you're with also wants to be able to hear that movie. Well, right now, there is no really good way to do that unless you're gonna share one earbud per person. But if you have Auracast, you're gonna be able to stream that audio into both of your ears and they would be able to stream the audio into both of their ears at the exact same time.

Basically, the only limitations that we will have with Auracast early on is whether or not a public venue actually has an Auracast Bluetooth transmitter. Whether or not your smart devices like your phones and your tablets are enabled to use Auracast and whether or not your hearing aids will be able to be upgraded with a firmware update or whether or not you'll have to purchase a new set of devices that are Auracast enabled. Now, I know that some of you are thinking what is gonna happen to Telecoils and hearing loops? Well, don't worry, I still think that those are gonna be around for a while longer. We still don't know exactly when Auracast is going to be available inside of devices, and there are still a good amount of public venues that have hearing loops installed, and those are not gonna be going away anytime soon.

So if you have the option to get a telecoil still inside of your hearing aids, I would go ahead and say do it. However, I do expect in the next five to 10 years to see Auracast completely take over the Telecoil scene to the point where I doubt that we'll be seeing telecoils inside of hearing aids in the next decade or so. Getting rid of Telecoils will also have an additional benefit of being able to make hearing aids even smaller. Not everybody has a ton of room inside their ears or behind their ears to house a large device. So if you want a really small hearing aid, one of the better ways to go about doing that is to have Auracast enabled devices to give you wireless connectivity without having to have a bigger device that can have a telecoil. When do I expect to see Auracast inside of hearing aids and other consumer electronic devices?

Well, I expect consumer electronic devices to come first, perhaps even before the end of 2022, maybe at the beginning of 2023. I think it will take hearing aid manufacturers a little bit longer because some hearing aid manufacturers just announced the release of new products here a couple of months ago, and it usually takes 'em about 18 to 24 months before they release new lines of devices. I would not be surprised if hearing aid manufacturers would be able to do a firmware update inside of their existing hearing aid technology, so even if they don't have Auracast right now, potentially being able to upgrade into Auracast at a future date. What I know for sure is that Auracast Bluetooth will completely revolutionize the future of hearing aid wireless connectivity, and I for one, can't wait. That's it for this video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below. If you like the video, please share it. And if you wanna see other videos just like this one, go ahead and hit that subscribe button. Also, feel free to check out my website, HearingUp.com.

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