LE Audio and the Future of Hearing

Ok, I’m a little too obsessed by the prospect of Bluetooth LE Audio, but this is still worth watching. It brings things together quite well.

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Apparently Qualcomm has some chips already certified. First Qualcomm chips get Bluetooth 5.2 certification : hardware

Interesting video. The big question, in my mind, is when will LC3 be readily available in products that we can use? Will all the hearing aid manufacturers jump on board quickly? Or, will they be reluctant to abandon their current technology? Phonak, in particular, has invested a lot in the current tech in their Marvels. Will they dump it to go to LC3 right away, or try to hang on?

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The latest Phonak Marvels use Bluetooth LE.

I found that a very informative video. Thanks for posting the link.

LE adds to battery life dramatically.

Starkey’s been using LE Bluetooth in the Livio products since 2018, and a single charge will run for over 20 hours, and non rechargeable are 7 to 8 days depending on streaming time.

Nobody is currently using the LE Audio described in the video.

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In the video it says that it was the hearing aid manufacturers that drove development of LE Audio. I posted something last year that the lead developer was a Widex employee. The advantages over current technologies are so wide, there is simply no point in hanging on to them.

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First question is when will the standard be finalised and published. It’s supposed to be in the first half of this year, but is that set in stone? The semiconductor builders have said they’ll have silicon available on day 1. Then you have to integrate it into your product. No idea at all, but it doesn’t sound like a small task. The hearing aid manufacturers may not feel there’s any urgency until there are compatible phones available. That probably means Pixel or Samsung, so it depends on where they are in their release cycle.

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Nothing really new, but decent article: What is LE Audio and LC3, the latest in Bluetooth audio? - SoundGuys

Lots of information in this Bluetooth article. It’s well written for those who are not up on Bluetooth.
Thanks for sharing.

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This is interesting because the new Widex Moment have a new Bluetooth 2.4 GHz-radio chip.

Not sure if this means Bluetooth 5.2 or maybe just Bluetooth 5.0. It also says that Widex TV PLAY will be “Available with WIDEX MOMENT™ compatibility late 2020.”. Not sure why it wouldn’t work out the box, unless they are making a new TV PLAY with the LC3 audio codec?

It may well be a Bluetooth 5.2 certified chip. I don’t know if that means that a future firmware upgrade could upgrade it to LE Audio. I don’t think they’re looking that far ahead.

“future connections to Android devices” almost certainly means ASHA.

I found the following in a Widex Moment pamphlet (pdf): "* Prepared for future connections with Android (ASHA) "

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For those with half an hour to spare and some interest in the upcoming LE Audio, I recommend this video. One of the key movers of the new specification as chair of the Bluetooth SIG Hearing Aid Working Group and a very good communicator.

I found that it’s Bluetooth 5.1 so I guess that rules out LE Audio:
https://launchstudio.bluetooth.com/ListingDetails/103396

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Saw this:

That means many upcoming Android phones will support LE Audio in the future.

In the article they say Bluetooth 5.2 “brings with it” LE Audio. Not strictly true. LE Audio is a separate specification. It requires Bluetooth 5.2 but is not part of it. We are seeing hardware with Bluetooth 5.2 but the spec for LE Audio hasn’t been released yet.

The questions I’d like answers to are:

Can LE Audio be added later as a firmware upgrade?
Will we see chips with Bluetooth 5.2 and LE Audio on the same chip and will that be a significantly more efficient implementation?

If the answer to the first question is ‘yes’ and you get a phone that’s 5.2 equipped and with upgrades for a couple of years, you get some future proofing.

If the answer to the second question is ‘yes’ and LE audio is important to you then you might be better off waiting to purchase if you can.

Yes, LE Audio can be added later as a firmware upgrade. Of course, hearing aids (and earbuds) will need a dedicated LE Audio (LC3 codec) chip to be energy efficient, but I guess for a phone it will be no problem using software to transmit the LC3 audio to the hearing aids.

I have used the feature of my KS8S: MFI, but only with my IPad. I use an Android phone (Samsung S8). When do you expect both Android phones and hearing aids to implement the Bluetooth 5.2/LE audio standard? Maybe 2 years? Also will it replace MFI or will Apple (as they seem to do) stick with their way?

I’m hopeful the first phones might be available 4th quarter of this year. Pixel 5 is rumored to use Snapdragon 768G chipset which uses BT 5.2. Hearing aids is anybody’s guess. Hopefully in 2021 sometime but I think all bets are off. Apple and MFI??? I’m thinking only very few people at Apple even know and they might change their minds.

I don’t think Apple can drive the market on this one. They’ll add LE Audio because that is what the general market (people who don’t use hearing aids) will expect. Once it’s there it will work with LE Audio-equipped hearing aids. Unless they specifically tried to block hearing aids in some way which would be a really dumb thing to do.