Press release

Bluetooth SIG Unveils LE Audio, the Next Generation of Bluetooth Audio

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Twenty years ago, Bluetooth® cut the audio cord and created the wireless
audio market. Today, the Bluetooth
Special Interest Group (SIG)
announced the upcoming release of LE
Audio, the next generation of Bluetooth audio. Not only will LE Audio
enhance Bluetooth audio performance, it will add support for hearing
aids and enable Audio Sharing, an entirely new use case that is poised
to once again transform the way we experience audio and connect with the
world around us.

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LE Audio will also add Broadcast Audio, enabling an audio source device to broadcast one or more aud ...

LE Audio will also add Broadcast Audio, enabling an audio source device to broadcast one or more audio streams to an unlimited number of audio sink devices. Broadcast Audio opens significant new opportunities for innovation, including the enablement of a new Bluetooth use case, Audio Sharing. (Photo: Business Wire)

“With close to one billion Bluetooth audio products shipped last year,
wireless audio is the largest Bluetooth market,” said Mark Powell, CEO
of the Bluetooth SIG. “The launch of LE Audio is a prime example of how
the Bluetooth community is driving technology and product innovation and
enabling delivery of even better and more capable Bluetooth audio
products.”

Bluetooth audio will soon support two operation modes. LE Audio will
operate on the Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) radio while Classic Audio
operates on the Bluetooth Classic radio (BR/EDR). LE Audio will support
development of the same audio products and use cases as Classic Audio,
while introducing new features to improve their performance as well as
enable new ones.

  • Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3) for Higher Quality and
    Lower Power.
    LE Audio will include a new high-quality, low-power
    audio codec. Providing high quality even at low data rates, LC3 will
    bring tremendous flexibility to developers, allowing them to make
    better design tradeoffs between key product attributes such as audio
    quality and power consumption.

    “Extensive listening tests
    have shown that LC3 will provide improvements in audio quality over
    the SBC codec included with Classic Audio, even at a 50% lower bit
    rate,” said Manfred Lutzky, Head of Audio for Communications at
    Fraunhofer IIS. “Developers will be able to leverage this power
    savings to create products that can provide longer battery life or, in
    cases where current battery life is enough, reduce the form factor by
    using a smaller battery.”

  • Multi-Stream Audio for Better Performing Earbuds. Multi-Stream
    Audio will enable the transmission of multiple, independent,
    synchronized audio streams between an audio source device, such as a
    smartphone, and one or more audio sink devices.

    “Developers
    will be able to use the Multi-Stream Audio feature to improve the
    performance of products like truly wireless earbuds,” said Nick Hunn,
    CTO of WiFore Consulting and Chair of the Bluetooth SIG Hearing Aid
    Working Group. “For example, they can provide a better stereo imaging
    experience, make the use of voice assistant services more seamless,
    and make switching between multiple audio source devices smoother.”

  • Bluetooth Hearing Aids for People with Hearing Loss. Building
    on its low power, high quality, and multi-stream capabilities, LE
    Audio adds support for hearing aids. Bluetooth audio has brought
    significant benefits to a large percentage of the global population,
    with wireless calling, listening, and watching. LE Audio will enable
    the development of Bluetooth hearing aids that bring all the benefits
    of Bluetooth audio to the growing number of people with hearing loss.

    “LE
    Audio will be one of the most significant advances for users of
    hearing aids and hearing implants,” said Stefan Zimmer, Secretary
    General of EHIMA, the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers
    Association. “EHIMA engineers have contributed their specialist
    knowledge to improve the audio experience especially for hard of
    hearing people. As a result, within a few years most new phones and
    TVs will be equally accessible to users with hearing loss.”

  • Broadcast Audio for Audio Sharing. LE Audio will also add
    Broadcast Audio, enabling an audio source device to broadcast one or
    more audio streams to an unlimited number of audio sink devices.
    Broadcast Audio opens significant new opportunities for innovation,
    including the enablement of a new Bluetooth use case, Audio Sharing.

    Bluetooth
    Audio Sharing can be personal or location-based. With personal Audio
    Sharing, people will be able to share their Bluetooth audio experience
    with others around them; for example, sharing music from a smartphone
    with family and friends. With location-based Audio Sharing, public
    venues such as airports, bars, gyms, cinemas, and conference centers
    can now share Bluetooth audio that augments the visitor experience.

    “Location-based
    Audio Sharing holds the potential to change the way we experience the
    world around us,” said Peter Liu of Bose Corporation and member of the
    Bluetooth SIG Board of Directors. “For example, people will be able to
    select the audio being broadcast by silent TVs in public venues, and
    places like theaters and lecture halls will be able to share audio to
    assist visitors with hearing loss as well as provide audio in multiple
    languages.”

Availability and More Information

The Bluetooth specifications that define LE Audio are expected to be
released throughout the first half of 2020. For information on LE Audio,
visit: https://www.bluetooth.com/leaudio.

About the Bluetooth SIG

Formed in 1998, the Bluetooth SIG is the not-for-profit trade
association that oversees Bluetooth® technology. In support of more than
35,000 member companies, the Bluetooth SIG facilitates the collaboration
of its members to create new and enhanced specifications that expand the
technology, drives global interoperability via a world-class product
qualification program, and grows the brand by increasing the awareness,
understanding, and adoption of Bluetooth technology.

About Bluetooth Technology

With close to 4 billion products shipping per year, Bluetooth technology
is the global standard for simple, secure wireless connections. Since
its formation in 1998, the Bluetooth community has continued to expand
the capabilities of Bluetooth — powering innovation, creating new
markets, and redefining communication worldwide. Today, Bluetooth is the
wireless technology of choice for developers in many solution areas,
including audio streaming, data transfer, location services, and
large-scale device networks.