Bluetooth Auracast is everywhere at CES 2024. So, what is it?

This is one of the main advantages of Bluetooth LE Audio Auracast: a way to stream content to connected devices in public settings. It will also allow you to easily connect multiple wireless speakers together within the app. Perhaps most importantly, the barrier to entry will be very low as the dedicated Auracast app will be built on mobile platforms such as iOS and Android. In addition, you will select available channels such as Bluetooth device or Wi-Fi network. It’s simple and presented in a way familiar to people who have used a smartphone. Auracast is constantly mentioned by companies announcing new audio devices CES 2024so here’s what you need to know about it.

What is Auracast?

Simply put, Auracast is audio streaming via Bluetooth. An Auracast transmitter that can be a high-end add-on to a box that looks like a TV or wall-mounted Wi-Fi router in public settings. You can also create your own channels from your phone or laptop to share soundtracks from TV shows. This means you’ll be able to stream muted airport TVs to your headphones or earphones while you travel. Auracast will also allow you to track flight and gate information without interrupting your leisure entertainment.

During the CES show, Bluetooth SIG, the organization that defines Bluetooth standards, allowed showgoers to experience the aforementioned airport television scenario. It was easy to switch between the two sports streams in the fake bar by simply tapping one or the other in the Auracast menu. Another tap allowed us to listen to a private stream from a laptop, which was password-protected so that only appropriate invitees could access it. There is also a use case where live audio from a lecture or performance can be streamed via Auracast directly to headphones, hearing aids or other Bluetooth listening devices. Impressively, there is no lag in any variant as the visuals match perfectly every time.

Bluetooth LE Audio Auracast TV transmitterBluetooth LE Audio Auracast TV transmitter

Bluetooth LE Audio Auracast TV transmitter (Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget)

“The analogy I’ll use is a lot like building a personal hotspot,” Chuck Saban, Bluetooth’s senior director of market development, explained of those private Auracasts. “You’d set up a private audio hotspot, it would be encrypted, and then anyone around me with that password could listen.”

Auracast will also help you connect multiple Bluetooth speakers with the push of a button. Until now, most companies asked you to select devices in the app. But companies like JBL are putting dedicated Auracast buttons on some of their newer devices. On the company PartyBox linefor example, you’ll press a button on the main speaker you’ve connected to your phone, and then press a button on successive units to pair them. Moreover, you can connect an unlimited number of speakers in this scenario.

What devices is Auracast available on?

Bluetooth LE Audio Auracast softwareBluetooth LE Audio Auracast software

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Auracast is a Bluetooth LE Audio feature that comes with Bluetooth 5.2. So, technically, any headphones, earphones, hearing aids, speakers, and other devices with that version of the wireless standard will be compatible with Auracast. However, Bluetooth 5.3 offers a more robust implementation of the streaming audio tool.

“What you get with 5.3 is ISOC channels capability, which allows multiple independent channel capabilities in the core,” Saban said. “You can effectively analyze left and right [channels] From the source itself.” He went on to explain that all of this processing has been moved to the phone from the headphones, or the headphones themselves, which improves battery life, performance and efficiency for Bluetooth devices.

When will Auracast be available?

Many Bluetooth devices support Bluetooth 5.2 or 5.3 and LE Audio. Since Auracast is part of Bluetooth, no additional technology is needed to incorporate it, products just need to support the latest versions of the wireless standard. From there it is up to the individual companies to switch to LE Audio and Auracast. Throughout 2023 and here at CES, tons of audio brands have said they plan to add support for the feature through over-the-air updates in 2024.

We’re reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas, January 6-12. Stay up to date with the latest news from the show here.

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