Wireless audio has become so ingrained in modern technology that we often take it for granted. Before Bluetooth introduced stereo support in 2003, we only had access to infrared and radio frequency methods, and both had notable drawbacks, such as interference and limited range.
Just over twenty years later, technology continues to march forward, with new Bluetooth versions being released every couple of years and the more recent introduction of Wi-Fi to audio devices.
The Introduction of Auracast
Bluetooth has become a part of our daily lives, from headphones and earbuds to portable speakers and home audio installations. The broad adoption of Bluetooth has resulted in a rapid advancement of features and functionality, many of which weren’t possible in earlier Bluetooth releases.
Auracast is the latest technology to be introduced to Bluetooth speakers that brings capabilities that will change how we use Bluetooth and not just for music purposes. Introduced in Bluetooth 5.2, it utilizes LE Audio (Low-Energy Audio) protocols to change how one can receive audio signals.
With traditional Bluetooth connections, the listener has to connect to the source device (such as your phone or tablet) to receive audio. And if you want that audio distributed across multiple speakers, you’d need to use daisy chaining or a party pairing. Daisy chaining involves the cabled connection between multiple speakers, and party pairing is limited to the number of speakers that can connect. Additionally, it relies on manufacturer support and doesn’t allow you to connect speakers from different manufacturers to the same pairing network.
Auracast changed everything with its innovative approach to audio broadcasting. Early in its adoption phase, Auracast will allow you to share audio across a broad area, letting other Auracast-supported devices quickly and easily connect to the broadcast. It works similarly to how radio signals work. In the same way, you can take five radios and connect them all to the same station; Auracast will let you connect any supported devices and receive the same audio broadcast on all of them.
How Auracast Will Change The Way We Listen To Music
- Incorporating multi-room support without Wi-Fi
- Easily sharing music with friends
- Creating comprehensive coverage for events
- Changing the way PA systems are used
If you want to broadcast audio to multiple rooms in your room, you’d historically need to use a multi-room Wi-Fi network or run wires to those rooms. With Auracast, you can create a seamless broadcast across multiple rooms without needing Wi-Fi. Members of your household can use their own Auracast-supported devices to tune into your broadcast.
The implications of this technology extend far outside of home usage, and Auracast’s capabilities are especially useful for presentations where there may be a large audience. It would let the host set up several speaker stations across the venue, which could ensure a broader coverage of high-quality sound. This advance will likely influence portable PA speakers and how manufacturers approach such systems.
With Auracast still in its infancy, we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible with this new technology. Already, there are investments being made around including Auracast into hearing aid devices. Wireless speakers for the hard of hearing is another product type that is bound to include Auracast in the near future.
Latency & Range Limitations
Auracast has a relatively low latency ranging from around 10ms to 30ms, which allows it to be included in direct audio and audiovisual applications. While these latency rates are impressive, they fall short of infrared, which can reliably achieve a latency of under 10ms (but is less versatile than Bluetooth). It’s important to consider that Auracast is in its early stages, and as we see refinements in LE Audio, we’ll likely continue to see Auracast’s performance improve.
Still, a latency of 10-30ms is outstanding when paired with the lack of restraints that Bluetooth provides. It is sufficient for multimedia, gaming, and video conferencing.
Auracast’s range is influenced by the technology being used, and we expect it to evolve rapidly as manufacturers adopt it more widely. Right now, ranges typically span between 10 meters and 30 meters outdoors with obstructions, but in theory, they can extend even up to a kilometer under the right circumstances. The range is defined primarily by the power of the transmitter and the receiver and could result in different speakers having varying range efficiency.
The Future of Auracast
With the vast real-world application potential of Auracast, it is likely that the technology won’t fall victim to the same brief spikes in popularity that technology like 3D televisions did. Instead, Auracast will likely continue improving in a way that further broadens its potential use.
Unlike many technological advancements, Auracast is unlikely to be limited to a specific use, and we can’t wait to see how the brilliant minds of technological innovation manage to harness the power of Auracast to improve our lives in the future.