Auracast™ is the latest Bluetooth® connectivity platform that allows audio transmitters like TVs, laptops, smartphones, or PA systems to relay audio to all Bluetooth® devices like hearing aids or earbuds.
Telecoils (or t-coils) in hearing aids have been available for decades, and they are reliable enough to gather broadcast audio in any area that features loops with a magnetic induction system. Telecoils may not provide a steady stream of good sound quality in every situation. Loops need to be maintained on a regular basis, and a skilled hearing instrument specialist needs to properly program the telecoils.
The Basics of Auracast™
Auracast™ is essentially a more powerful version of telecoils. With Auracast™ hearing aid users will be able to access audio streams securely and privately, without being confined to hearing loop cables. Audio will be streamed via a secure Wi-Fi network, without relying on electromagnetism.
If you are traveling through an airport, crucial flight/gate changes and other announcements will be streamed directly to your hearing aids. If you attend a live lecture or play, an Auracast™ transmitter will give you an alert on your smartphone to let you know that audio streaming can be accessed. The Auracast Assistant™ will be used to locate and select the sound stream and transmit it to your hearing aids or, other Bluetooth®-connected devices.
The only earlier options for these situations were t-coils, FM transmitters, or infrared receivers. Auracast™ may be the future of assistive listening systems.
The ability to hear and comprehend speech in different settings is an ongoing struggle for people with any range of hearing loss. New and quality technology is beneficial for everyone, including improvement in communication for those with hearing loss. Giving more options to people with a wide range of hearing loss is important.
The Telecoils are Still Beneficial
While the Auracast™ has many perks, there’s one significant flaw: it will only work if you have both a Bluetooth®-compatible hearing aid and the Auracast-enabled transmitter (a smartphone, computer, or tablet).
Many modern hearing aids feature Bluetooth® audio streaming technology. Most of the hearing aids that do not have Bluetooth® streaming are smaller devices. For example, in-the-ear (ITE), completely-in-the-canal (CIC), and in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids drain the batteries faster when Bluetooth® streaming is utilized.
Basic hearing aids are less likely to feature Bluetooth®. Many behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-the-ear (RIC), and custom-designed hearing aids can feature a telecoil. Venues around the U.S. are required to have assistive listening systems, so a telecoil is useful for these areas.
Even if Auracast™ functions well, it may take at least 10 years until the vast majority of hearing aid users can use it to their advantage. Telecoils are still a great solution to hear speakers or in noisy environments that use a loop system. So if you are shopping around for hearing aids, request a pair with telecoils if possible, and/or when your hearing instrument specialist recommends them.
Bluetooth® technology will grow and change in ways that will improve communication in many different types of settings and situations. Just about all hearing aids in the future will have streaming features. Auracast™ is still a major innovation that can expand the way hearing aids, earbuds, and speakers audibly adapt to their environments.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
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