What is Auracast Audio?
The next generation of Bluetooth is gaining momentum after a slow start, and one of its most exciting features is getting a name change, adding a whole new dimension to the way we use our wireless headphones.
that improvement it’s called Bluetooth Auracast and it will turn our smartphones into radio stations, our headphones into audio enhancers, and it could end up drastically changing the way we watch movies, listen to concerts, or even change the in-flight entertainment experience.
We explain what this new update is, how it works and what news it will bring to the world of audio, in this report.
What is Auracast Audio?
Well, as we have already anticipated, we are facing a name change, a rebranding of Bluetooth Audio Sharing, which the Bluetooth SIG decided to modify, considering that it should have its own name and brand: Auracast broadcast audio.
To understand the origin, this specification, which was announced in 2020, allows phones, tablets, computers, and other devices to broadcast their audio streams over Bluetooth to any compatible receiving device.
With this no need to go through the traditional pairing process to which we have all become accustomed; this type of audio sharing will ultimately turn our phones into mobile Bluetooth radio stations that anyone can listen to.
How does Aucast work?
Its operation can be interpreted in two ways. The simplest and most basic, as we have already said, is that Auracast It is very similar to terrestrial AM or FM radio.. A device transmits an audio signal, and any device that is capable of receiving that signal will be able to do so, as long as it is within transmission range.
However, another way of looking at it is as a public wifi hotspot: You will see a list of Auracast broadcasts available in your environment and select the one you want to connect to.
The device, whatever it is, now acts as an Auracast helper, an intermediary device used to find Auracast broadcasts.
Now, it is hoped that this way of connecting can also be done via QR code, for example in a hotel or any public place such as an airplane. Using NFC technology, you can also touch your phone with a friend’s phone or with a dedicated NFC terminal installed for the same. Here, instead of searching within a list, we will connect to a specific one.
With this, if your headphones are compatible with Auracast, they will tune in to the selected broadcast and your phone will no longer be needed to continue listening, being able to turn it off if you want. In theory, you and your friend, for example, can watch and listen to a YouTube video or Netflix movie on the same phone.
In addition, we are not only talking about audio transmission, but also metadata. In a few words and exemplifying to understand it, it would work the same as when you play Spotify. We’ll see information about the song, the artist, but if it was a live broadcast of an event, it could include the name of the current speaker, his photo, and maybe the title of his presentation.
What kinds of things can be done with Auracast?
The ability to stream audio over Bluetooth creates an almost limitless number of applications, but here are the scenarios we expect to see in the near future:
It is common for large events, meetings or conferences in other languages to have a translator in real time. Until now, if you wanted to listen to the translation, you had to take one of those rather suspicious headphones and, of course, return it at the end.
Well, this changes and it would be as simple as search for the language you need on your phone and start listening with your own headphones. This applies to any large space in which the audio is not entirely clear, such as a concert or the directions that you can receive on a plane or the movies and series that you can watch while flying, for example.
Keep in mind that we are talking about situations that for those of us who hear perfectly but the environment has questionable audio, it will be a great improvement. Imagine what it means for those with hearing problems.
In the case of television, the same thing happens. Whether it is the TV in your home, in a gym or anywhere, Auracast will allow you, if that TV is compatible, just by accessing it through the Auracast menu on the phone or through the QR/NFC options which we have talked about before, you will already be connected.
To take one last example, and as I’m sure you know, companies like JBL and Anker Soundcore have created Bluetooth speakers that have a party mode: the ability to daisy chain multiple Bluetooth speakers to a single Bluetooth connection.
With Auracast this already disappears and it will not be necessary to be subjected to one company or another that offers us this functionality. Just start an Auracast and all compatible speakers can join.
How can I find out which devices are compatible with Auracast?
To take advantage of Auracast features, of course, Auracast-compatible hardware is required, both on the transmitting and receiving end.
The only way to know for sure is Check the features listed by the manufacturer. If a product says that it is specifically compatible with Auracast, then everything would be ready.
But there is something to keep in mind: even if Auracast is introduced with the new Bluetooth LE audio standard, it is not a requirement of the LE audio standard. In other words, just because a device says it supports LE Audio doesn’t mean we’re going to get this new thing.
When will we start seeing Auracast devices?
The Bluetooth SIG expects Auracast devices to be available before the end of 2022. However, you have to tread carefully with these types of claims. And it is that with LE Audio technology we already had the occasional surprise with the delays after its announcement.
In a press release, executives from Google, Xiaomi, and other companies have pledged to support Auracast, while a recent Android 13 beta brings full Bluetooth LE Audio support, including this functionality.
With this, it is expected that a few products will be released on the market quickly and that little by little they will be included on a larger scale by the end of this year.