How Bluetooth® Auracast™ Will Revolutionize Audio Experiences

One of the most exciting capabilities of Bluetooth® Low Energy (LE) audio is Auracast™ broadcast audio. Have you ever had trouble hearing a flight announcement at the airport? Or wish you could hear the audio on a muted TV while using a treadmill at the gym? Auracast™-supported transmitters can address pain points like these by sending direct-to-ear audio signals to an unlimited number of nearby users. Not only will Auracast™ unlock new audio-sharing experiences for mainstream consumers, but the technology will improve the quality of life for hearing aid users. With Auracast™, people who require assistive listening devices can tune into a low-latency broadcast using their own personal device instead of needing a Radio Frequency (RF)-capable device provided to them from the venue.

Let’s take a look at some notable use cases of Auracast™ and the flurry of market activity from Bluetooth® device manufacturers aiming to support the revolutionary audio technology.

Chart 1: Total Auracast™ Broadcast Audio Deployments

World Markets: 2024 to 2030

(Source: ABI Research)

What Is Auracast?

Auracast™ is a Bluetooth® audio broadcasting technology that allows users to share audio streams with others, unmute televisions, tune into Public Address (PA) systems, and more. The opportunities with Auracast™ are numerous, allowing consumers to watch the same movie with their own earbuds, watch TV in a public space without distraction, and never again miss an important announcement at a sports venue or transportation hub.

Both the transmitter (TV, PA system, etc.) and a receiving Bluetooth® 5.2 or later device (smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc.) must support Auracast™ for it to work. According to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), users can connect to an Auracast™ signal in three ways:

  • Search for an Auracast™ broadcast the same way you already search for a local Wi-Fi network
  • Scan a QR code
  • Tap on your device like how you tap-to-pay for products

Auracast™ Use Cases

As support for LE Audio and Auracast™ has taken off relatively rapidly for receiver devices,  there’s a huge opportunity for Bluetooth® solution providers to deploy Auracast™ in public venues. These simple, low-cost retrofitted deployments unlock a range of Auracast™ use cases, such as augmented listening, silent TV screens, multi-language support, and tour systems.

  • Augmented Listening in Public Spaces: Auracast’s direct-to-ear stereo capabilities enhance the audio experience for people at airports, cinemas, lecture halls, conference centers, places of worship, and other public venues with PA systems. This use case can be achieved quickly and cost-effectively by retrofitting transmitters, adapters, and dongles for legacy sound systems, speakers, microphones, and other audio equipment already deployed.
  • Silent TV Screens: Users can hear the audio of a silent TV at gyms, bars, transportation hubs, hotels, restaurants, and other public venues by connecting via Auracast™ audio-enabled receiver devices. While venues can purchase a new TV with embedded Auracast™ broadcast audio support, a cheaper option is to retrofit High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), Universal Serial Bus (USB), or auxiliary dongles that can connect to TVs already deployed.
  • Multi-Language Support: Auracast™ can translate conferences and meetings into a participant's native language to make for an enhanced, more inclusive audio experience. These simultaneous audio streams can also be applied to other venues requiring support for multiple languages, such as railway stations and movie theaters.
  • Tour Systems: Businesses that provide touring services, such as museums, convention centers, and tourist attractions, can leverage Auracast™ to offer a more engaging experience. An Auracast™ broadcast audio-enabled headset or hearing device provides customers with a clear, direct-to-ear stereo audio stream. Existing tour guide systems can be easily retrofitted to support Bluetooth® LE Audio and Auracast™.

Figure 1: Retrofit Auracast™  Broadcast Audio Opportunity by Viability and Ease of Installation

(Source: ABI Research)

Growing Auracast™ Support for Consumer Devices

Bluetooth® LE Audio and Auracast™ have gained significant momentum since the release of LE Audio specifications in July 2022. A number of chipset vendors, such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, MediaTek, Airoha, Nordic Semiconductor, and NXP, have developed LE Audio-ready silicon.

Hearing aid vendors Cochlear Unlimited and GN Hearing are two notable vendors capitalizing on the Auracast™ opportunity. In November 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its Cochlear Nucleus 8 Sound Processor, marking the onset of Auracast™-supported cochlear implant sound processors. More recently, GN Hearing announced Auracast™ functionality for its ReSound Nexia hearing aids and its TV-Streamer + device in late 2023.

Hearing aid suppliers are not alone in the Auracast™ space, with a number of device manufacturers supporting the technology in smartphones, tablets, PCs, notebooks, and TVs. Widespread support for Auracast™ broadcast audio is years away, yet there are encouraging signs for the market. Besides some device manufacturers sending firmware updates to enable Auracast™ for existing products, big-name consumer brands are all-in on the Bluetooth® upgrade. Samsung is a standout example, providing Auracast™ compatibility in Android 13 for its Galaxy 23 and Fold series, enabled through its One UI 6 (and higher) update. The South Korean electronics company also supports Auracast™ for its true wireless earbuds, Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro, and the Neo QLED 8K and MICRO LED TV series.

Why Auracast?

ABI Research estimates that more than 60 million venues worldwide could potentially benefit from Auracast™. Due to its ease of deployment/use and ability to enrich the audio experience, Auracast™ is set to transform numerous market verticals, including education, public assembly, religious worship, food service, healthcare, lodging, offices, and public safety. These venues heavily rely on PA systems and other audio streaming services that can easily and cheaply be retrofitted to support Auracast™.

You may wonder why not retrofit assistive and augmented listening transmitters with other existing listening technologies like Radio Frequency (RF) or Infrared (IR). For example, RF assistive listening can provide similar benefits as Auracast™, such as multi-channel audio streaming, ease of setup, and low costs. However, RF assistive listening requires a venue to provide visitors with dedicated hardware that can connect to a hearing aid or hearing device. Auracast™, on the other hand, allows venue visitors to simply use their own devices to tune in to an audio stream. The convenience of such a setup makes a more compelling case for retrofitting existing audio transmitting devices with Auracast™ broadcast audio. Furthermore, the growing number of end-user devices supporting Bluetooth® LE Audio and Auracast™ makes the audio technology an even more logical choice going forward.

Download ABI Research’s Auracast™ Broadcast Audio Retrofit Solutions and Opportunities whitepaper, which offers a comprehensive evaluation of how Auracast™ can be retrofitted to existing audio systems to enrich visitor experiences in public venues.

Related Blog Posts

Related Services