Industry Expert Blogs

Franz Dugand, Director of Sales & Marketing, Wireless IoT BU

I had a dream: AuracastTM made it come true

Franz Dugand, Director of Sales & Marketing, Wireless IoT BU - CEVA, Inc.
Jun 08, 2022

My friend and I are at the airport, sitting in the waiting room next to the boarding gate, looking forward to our trip to Paris and the concert. We are debating past concerts, so I pull out my tablet and we both connect our earbuds to the video stream via Auracast, Bluetooth's new broadcast audio technology. In no time we have synchronized head nodding, foot tapping and smiles, soaking up the high quality shared audio experience, with the music beautifully distilled from the airport noises by the active noise cancellation. I comment on the excellence of the LC3 codec, my friend yawns. The couple next to us remain undisturbed; they are too busy on a joint video call with their son, again enjoying the convenience of private but shared audio, thanks to Auracast. Even the husband, who is wearing Auracast-enabled hearing aid devices, is smiling and getting the odd word in.

Suddenly there is a notification at the boarding gate announcing a two hour delay. We hear the notification directly in our earbuds, clear as a bell, our headsets were already synchronized to the boarding gate Auracast transmitter. We decide to make the best of the delay with a quick dinner at a nearby restaurant.

We find some place at the restaurant but it is crowded and very noisy. Not a problem, our earbuds to the rescue, with assisted hearing and active noise cancelling. Several public TV screens are broadcasting the news. Breaking news. We decide to join the TV Auracast transmitter to hear the details. Fifteenth Roland-Garros trophy for Nadal! Suddenly we are interrupted by another audio notification, direct to our earbuds: boarding now, different gate. We rush to the gate.

This story is just an illustration showing the benefits that Auracast will bring to our day-to-day lives. The technology behind Auracast is LE Audio broadcasting. An audio stream is broadcast over the air by means of Bluetooth Broadcast Isochronous Stream (BIS) packets containing 10 ms or 7.5 ms of audio samples compressed using LC3 codec. Any device within range, including headsets, earbuds and hearing aid devices, may receive these BIS packets once it is synchronized to the BIS stream. One BIS stream contains audio samples for one channel. Two BIS streams are therefore necessary for stereo. Packets may be repeated one or more times to increase the link reliability.

This disruptive technology will transform our audio experience. While it still looks like science fiction today, it will soon become a reality. We will quickly forget the old times when we shared one earbud with our friend to listen to the same music, watching dumbly the moving mouth of people talking on TV in public places, not hearing important flight information at the airport, causing us to miss our flight.

Auracast has just been announced by the Bluetooth SIG. Solutions will start to be rolled out this year. To enjoy Auracast, you need both sides (the transmitter and the receiver) to be compliant. Thankfully, most modern smartphones already have the necessary functionality baked in and will be upgradeable with a software update. However, even older equipment, like TVs, that lack a suitable software upgrade path, can be easily enhanced with Auracast bridge plugins or dongles. The attractive pull of shared audio coupled with the low barrier to adoption means that Auracast will quickly permeate the market.

CEVA is the leading provider of Bluetooth platform IP solutions for integration into SoCs, powering billions of Bluetooth-enabled devices to date. CEVA offers both Bluetooth LE and Dual Mode IP platforms, including baseband controller, radio and full software protocol stack, compliant with Bluetooth 5.3, LE Audio and Auracast. To further simplify the development of wireless audio devices, CEVA's Bluebud Bluetooth audio turnkey platform offers a complete wireless audio experience, targeting TWS earbuds, smartwatches, wireless microphones and speakers. Bluebud combines our Bluetooth, audio and sensing solutions in a single, integrated solution, along with a comprehensive list of audio codecs, including LC3, (m)SBC, CVSD, AAC, MP3, voice processing algorithms such as ClearVox for noise reduction and echo cancellation, WhisPro for speech recognition and MotionEngine Hear for Spatial Audio and motion sensing.

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