LE Audio unveiled as next generation of Bluetooth audio

Today, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced LE Audio, the next generation of Bluetooth audio, with defining specifications expected to be released throughout the first half of this year.

LE Audio will not only enhance Bluetooth audio performance, but it will also add support for hearing aids and enable Audio Sharing, a new use case that is expected to transform how we experience audio. 

“With close to one billion Bluetooth audio products shipped last year, wireless audio is the largest Bluetooth market,” commented Mark Powell, executive director 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, with LE Audio operating on the Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) radio while Classic Audio operated on the Bluetooth Classic radio. 

LE Audio will support development of the same audio products and use cases as Classic Audio, but it will also introduce new features designed to improve performance.

LC3, a new high-quality, low-power audio codec has been introduced with LE Audio, bringing flexibility to developers, allowing them to make better design tradeoffs between key product attributes such as audio quality and power consumption. 

Changing the way we consume audio together, LE Audio will also introduce Multi-Stream Audio, enabling the transmission of multiple, independent, synchronised audio streams between an audio source device, such as a smartphone, and one or more audio sink devices.

Utilising its low power, high quality and multi-stream capabilities, LE Audio also adds support for hearing aids. It will enable the development of Bluetooth hearing aids that bring benefits of Bluetooth audio, such as wireless calling, listening, and watching, to the growing number of people suffering hearing loss. 

Finally, LE Audio will 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 opportunities for innovation, including the enablement of a new Bluetooth use case, Audio Sharing. 

Bluetooth Audio Sharing can be personal or location-based. Personal audio sharing allows people to share their Bluetooth audio experience with others around them, such as sharing from a smartphone with friends. 

Location-based audio sharing allows public venues such as airports, bars, gyms, cinemas, and conference centres to share Bluetooth audio that augments visitor experiences. 

Bluetooth specifications defining LE Audio are expected to be released throughout the first half of 2020. 

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