Bluetooth Special Interest Group, an organization that oversees the development of the Bluetooth standard, announced a new framework called Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) with multi-streaming and broadcast audio support.
This means you’ll be able to control multiple, independent, synchronized audio streams from a source device – like a smartphone – to many headphones, speakers, and audio sinks. Bluetooth LE will also allow you to broadcast audio resulting in audio sharing between headphones.
The new standard will let public spaces, such as malls or gyms, provide audio streams simultaneously to their customers. This can also prove useful in museums as they’ll be able to stream tour guides in various languages directly to visitors’ phones.
In addition to this, Bluetooth SIG also announced a new codec – Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3) – providing high-quality audio at lower power and data rates.
Manfred Lutzky, Head of Audio for Communications at Fraunhofer IIS, a research institute said the new codec will deliver high-quality audio even at 50 percent lower bitrate:
Extensive listening tests have shown that LC3 will provide improvements in audio quality over the SBC codec included with Classic Audio, even at a 50% lower bit rate. Developers will be able to leverage this power savings to create products that can provide longer battery life or, in cases where current battery life is enough, reduce the form factor by using a smaller battery.
Bluetooth LE will also lead to the development of better hearing aids with Bluetooth support.
Last year, Apple rolled out support for Audio sharing to Airpods and select Beats products with iOS 13. However, the new Bluetooth standard will allow any phone or headphones to share audio with friends. Plus, multi-stream support will improve the performance of truly wireless earbuds.
Specifications for Bluetooth LE are expected to be released in the first half of 2020. So, we might see some devices with the new standard by the end of the year.