Wouldn’t it be nice if the world sounded better? Imagine being able to easily share your audio content with your friends or unmute your surrounding environment to hear your best. With Auracast broadcast audio, those life-changing audio experiences are now possible!
As consumer expectations for convenience and compatibility reach new heights, Bluetooth® — with its wireless data transmission and extensive accessibility — empowers listeners to cut cords and luxuriate in untethered music streaming and hands-free calling. But the technology that powers these transformative audio experiences must evolve to keep pace.
Lacking audio quality, operational range, latency issues and limited support for true wireless stereo (TWS) leave some people wanting more from Bluetooth audio. Consequently, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) crafted the Auracast standard, a new capability based on the Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Audio broadcasting specification, to address those limitations while enabling exciting new capabilities.
Let’s explore how Auracast is set to enhance how we engage with others and the world around us.
Understanding Auracast: Bluetooth Broadcast Audio
Auracast — the new audio-sharing standard from Bluetooth — enables a single Auracast transmitter device (e.g., a smartphone or TV) to broadcast one or more audio streams to an unlimited number of Auracast receiver devices, like hearing aids, TWS earbuds or loudspeakers.
Leveraging Bluetooth technology to establish a connection between an audio transmitter and a network of Bluetooth audio receivers, Auracast is designed to transmit audio content wirelessly to an unlimited number of nearby Bluetooth audio receivers. This novel approach allows for the synchronized playback of audio content to a diverse audience, all tuned in through their personal devices.
The new Bluetooth LE Audio specification now natively supports true wireless stereo (TWS), providing dual-stream audio, where each earbud is directly connected, to minimize power consumption and latency.
LE Audio also brings other interesting capabilities that Auracast devices take full advantage of:
- Lower power consumption.
- Synchronized multichannel audio (for stereo or surround sound such as 5.1).
- Support for one-to-many audio broadcasting.
With Auracast, this new level of audio engagement can invite others to share and bring us closer together.
The Many Applications of Auracast Devices
Redefining how we consume and share audio content, the potential of Auracast devices extends far beyond traditional broadcasting scenarios to revolutionize various industries and applications:
- Personal and Location-Based Audio Sharing: Envision strolling through a museum, with each visitor experiencing a personalized audio tour, or sharing your new favorite song with friends in a park. Enter Auracast.
- Headsets, Hearing Aids and Hearables: Auracast brings a new dimension to assistive technologies, empowering individuals with hearing impairments to benefit from better audio clarity and customization.
- TVs in Public Spaces: Whether it’s watch parties at a sports bar or synchronized audio during a workout session at the gym, Auracast transforms public entertainment spaces into unique audio hubs.
- Public Transport and Tourism: From flight- or train-specific audio broadcasts at an airport or train station to multilanguage options at a museum, Auracast simplifies the delivery of audio information in crowded and diverse settings.
- Education and Training: Instructors can use Auracast to ensure every learner receives the right audio cues, which can help foster engagement and improve comprehension.
- Gaming and Virtual Reality: In the gaming and VR world, Auracast allows for precise spatial audio, audio customization and the ability to create multiuser audio experiences, enhancing realism and immersion.
Understanding the transformative potential of Auracast devices in various applications allows us to focus on the essential steps and considerations involved in designing these innovative audio products.
How to Design Auracast Products
Designing Auracast into hearing aids, earbuds or headphones not only adds innovative features but also opens doors to new use cases and enriches the audio experience for countless users. When designing the user experience for Auracast devices, focus on making audio sharing seamless and intuitive for consumers.
At the heart of Auracast’s functionality lies an additional software layer that sits on top of the existing Bluetooth LE protocol stack: the Generic Audio Framework. This collection of services and profiles required for broadcast audio enables the broadcast capability of Auracast. To simplify connection, the Auracast devices do not need to know which receiver devices are connected — users just search for an Auracast broadcast, scan a QR code and tap to hear.
For consumers to fully embrace the Auracast transition, however, hardware compatibility is essential. Electronic devices either come equipped with native Auracast support or some can be upgraded to support it. Auracast bridges, with an A2DP receiver on one side and an Auracast transmitter on the other, also enable audio sharing with older Bluetooth Classic devices.
Fortunately, using Auracast in an audio product is not overly demanding. Bluetooth SIG member companies can follow these three steps to add support for Auracast™ broadcast audio in their products:
- Build your audio innovation. Identify the use case or application for your Auracast device, whether headphones, hearing aids or a unique audio device. Discuss hardware requirements incorporate the GAF into your product’s design. Test rigorously to ensure Auracast functionality, compatibility and reliability.
- Complete the Bluetooth Qualification Process. Ensuring Bluetooth products comply with the Bluetooth License Agreement and specifications, qualification must happen before a product is launched to market. If products are not qualified, they will be subject to Bluetooth SIG enforcement actions.
- Apply Auracast trademarks to products and supporting promotional materials. Developers that qualify their products to the Public Broadcast Profile (PBP) specification can be licensed to use the Auracast™ trademarks in association with those innovations.
From enhanced accessibility to easy audio sharing to personalized listening and immersive audio experiences, myriad reasons for designing Auracast devices exist.
Partner with an Bluetooth Audio Product Design Expert
Getting your audio device from idea to reality requires the guidance and support of the right team. Complicating the issue, successful Auracast implementation involves myriad challenges and technical issues and can be difficult and complex.
Cardinal Peak has deep audio product design, video product engineering and audio and video streaming development experience. If you need assistance harnessing the power of Auracast in your next audio product, let us know how we can help you create beyond-imaginable innovations that reshape how listeners share and experience audio content. We’ve helped companies of all sizes build next-generation audio innovations for decades!