LE Audio, Where Innovation, Market Needs, and Inclusiveness Converge

wireless congress 2020

Abstract

Earlier this year, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced the release of the new Bluetooth Low Energy v5.2 specification. The big story was audio support over the Bluetooth Low Energy link. Described as one of the largest development efforts in the Bluetooth SIG history, Low Energy Audio is not just another incremental addition to the Bluetooth Low Energy specification. This is rather a revolutionary step which will go beyond the traditional use case such as handsfree calling, point to point audio streaming and will transform the way we consume and share audio for many years to come. One of the most exciting features in v5.2 release is an exclusive support for hearing aid users, allowing them to benefit from Bluetooth Audio, which many of us have taken for granted over the past 20 years. We are already witnessing several companies working on Bluetooth based “Assisted Hearing” devices, to help those with low to moderate hearing loss. This combined with a smartphone-based analysis program to help people self-diagnose their hearing profile and configure their hearing aid to suit their need. With an estimated 80% of people with hearing loss to be living in low to moderate-income countries, where there is just one audiologist per as many as 6million populations, this will be a life-changing experience for many. Today 15% of the world population estimated to have a hearing loss and this figure is expected to increase as people are living longer. In the UK alone, there are currently just under 12million people suffering from hearing loss, and this is one in 6 of us, according to Action on Hearing Loss, a national charity. The current production of hearing aids only meets less than 10% of the global needs according to the WHO. In another report, WHO also estimates that the annual global cost to the society of untreated hearing loss is $750 billion. In this paper, we will be talking about how LE Audio will present a significant opportunity for many existing and new innovative companies, make hearing aids accessible for many, and why the next hearing aids will be Blue.