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Bluetooth SIG shows support for World Hearing Day

3rd March 2020
Alex Lynn

To mark today's World Hearing Day 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) are campaigning worldwide for an active and positive approach to hearing loss. The campaign provides comprehensive information about the prevention, treatment and consequences of hearing impairment and shows that hearing loss is not necessarily a stigma.

This is a topic that is also being addressed by the trade association that oversees Bluetooth technology, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).

Don’t let hearing loss limit you

Over five percent of the world’s population – or 466 million people – has disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children), with the average person waiting seven years to seek treatment.

"Those affected find it increasingly difficult to follow conversations in the family, to understand audio-visual content or to follow in meeting situations. Far too often they then withdraw from their social and professional environment. This does not have to happen," explained Dr Stefan Zimmer, Secretary General of EHIMA.

Experience hearing in a new way

The recently introduced Bluetooth audio standard ‘LE Audio’ will support hearing aids thanks to low energy consumption, high sound quality, and Multi-Stream Audio functionality. LE Audio will also enable Audio Sharing, where a Bluetooth audio transmitter can broadcast audio to an unlimited number of Bluetooth audio receivers.

This could form the basis of a next generation Assistive Listening System (ALS) that allows hearing aid users to receive announcements at train stations and the audio track in cinemas, theatres or conferences directly via the hearing aid. Audio Sharing also allows friends to enjoy music played on a smartphone through their Bluetooth headphones and hearing aids simultaneously.

"LE Audio will be one of the most significant advancements for hearing aid and hearing implant users. The fields of application range from theatres and concerts to train stations, airports and conferences and thus cover all areas of life," Dr Zimmer continued. “EHIMA and the Bluetooth SIG therefore support World Hearing Day efforts to motivate people to have their hearing checked regularly and not to stop participating in public and social life”.

"The Bluetooth developer community continues to drive the technology forward to meet market demands and unlock new potential," added Mark Powell, CEO of Bluetooth SIG. "LE Audio is a perfect example of this. Not only will it improve the performance of existing applications using Bluetooth audio, but it introduces a new use case for audio with Audio Sharing. It will completely change the way we experience audio and connect with the world around us."

The Bluetooth specifications that define LE Audio are expected to be released in 2020.

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