Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology is a very strong candidate for the next-generation of wireless audio applications. This is thanks to the latest version, BT v5.2, which features integration with multiple synchronous audio streams and a new codec. BLEA2AV will realize advanced, interoperable audio and voice solutions based on Bluetooth LE Audio for conferencing systems and hearing implants. These will offer key features such as bidirectional many-to-many audio and voice streaming, location awareness, self-configuration and excellent quality audio and voice capturing.
Nearly every wireless speaker or headset sold today includes a Bluetooth (BT) chip. However, most of them are based on older technology which causes both transmitter (smartphone) and receiver (e.g. earbuds) to consume too much power. This leads to limited listening times, limitations in scalability and suboptimal audio quality. Even more, classic BT technology supports only a single stream, making it non-interoperable and limiting its use to very basic applications.
In 2020, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group announced the introduction of a new wave of audio technologies as part of v5.2 that unlock multiple synchronous streams. In addition, after twenty years of using more or less the same technology, the new version contains a brand new generation of audio codec. These new features enable multi-stream audio, audio sharing, power control and other groundbreaking functionalities. However, the rich and diverse real-life application of these audio technologies remain unknown, requiring research into networking and audio/voice processing that goes beyond the state of the art.
The BLE2AV consortium has outlined several research goals and outcomes:
These research outcomes, insights and solutions will pave the way for the development of new and more cost-effective wireless sound technologies with rich functionality, as well as high-quality, easy-to-use implantable hearing systems.
“BLEA2AV will realize advanced, interoperable audio and voice solutions based on low-energy technology for conferencing systems and hearing implants. These will offer key features such as bidirectional many-to-many audio and voice streaming, location awareness, self-configuration and excellent quality audio and voice capturing.”
Next-generation audio and voice systems based on LE Audio
BLE2AV is an imec.icon research project funded by imec and Agentschap innoveren & ondernemen.
It started on 01.07.2021 and is set to run until 31.12.2023.