The Bluetooth standard has been a part of wireless communication technology since 1998, when the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed to oversee the development of the technology. Now, the SIG has unveiled a new standard called Bluetooth Auracast, which would bring the capability to broadcast audio to multiple devices simultaneously.
The Bluetooth SIG ensures that the wireless communication standard shipped with over 5 billion devices around the world each year is up to spec. It allows audio streaming, data and file transfer, location services, and large-scale device networks.
However, connections were mostly one-to-one, which meant that, unlike Wi-Fi, one device could only interact with one other device at a time using Bluetooth. With true-wireless earphones and headphones at every price point boosting the transition to wireless audio, it is no surprise that a one-to-many Bluetooth protocol is in the pipeline.
Enter Bluetooth Auracast, a new communications standard that allows one device to transmit audio over Bluetooth to multiple other devices. This technology is all set to change the way people consume media and experience audio in groups and public spaces.
You will be able to watch movies with your family in complete silence since the audio will be streamed directly from your TV or laptop to the Auracast-enabled earphones of all the viewers. Similarly, TVs in public places such as cafes, train stations, and airports won’t need to be muted or operate at blast volume. Anyone with Auracast-compatible earphones would be able to tune in to the audio stream via Bluetooth. At an airport, passengers would be able to receive essential announcements about their flight, such as the boarding gate and departure time, through their audio devices instead of the public address system.
The end result is an individualized listening experience that doesn’t disturb uninterested people in public spaces. It also creates a more natural watching and listening experience when consuming content from a device installed for the public. Bluetooth Auracast is the first step towards a next-generation assistive listening system (ALS). Bluetooth SIG CEO Mark Powell believes the launch of this new technology will “usher in yet another sea change in the audio market.”
“The impact of Bluetooth audio has been massive. A simple, wireless audio connection between two Bluetooth devices has helped make our roads safer, our lives more productive, and our relationship with music, podcasts, video streaming, and all types of personal audio more convenient and joyful.”
“The launch of Auracast broadcast audio will usher in yet another sea change in the audio market. The ability to broadcast Bluetooth audio will reshape personal audio sharing while also enabling public venues and spaces to deliver audio experiences that will improve occupant and visitor satisfaction and increase accessibility.”
The Bluetooth SIG specifies that Auracast should be released in the next few months. The specifications which define it are a part of the Bluetooth LE Audio specification suite. The SIG also has a dedicated webpage for audio product developers and venue operators where they can learn more about Auracast.