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TechVentures with Lazina | Ep 23 – Bluetooth LE Audio design considerations with Mohammad Afaneh

Join Lazina on this episode of Techventures where she speaks to Bluetooth Low Energy subject matter expert, and founder of Novel Bits, Mohammad Afaneh.

They dive into topics such as Bluetooth LE Audio, the differences between Bluetooth Classic and LE Audio, design considerations and upcoming trends.

See the video or read the full transcript below.

Toggle transcript

Hi! Welcome back to TechVentures.

My name is Lazina, and I’m a Technical Marketing Engineer at Future Electronics

If you are interested in checking out any previous TechVentures videos, click the link on the screen or check out the description box below.

Techventures video series


For today’s episode I’m going to do something a little different, I’m so excited to be able to welcome Mohammad Afaneh as a special guest. Mohammad is the founder of Novel Bits, a professional training resource for Bluetooth Low Energy Development. He is the subject matter expert who helps companies connect their products with Bluetooth Low Energy and brings them to market faster. You may also recognize his name from helpful tutorials and articles on the Bluetooth SIG website.

Lazina:

Hi Mohammad, thank you for joining us today!

Mohammad:

Thank you for having me, Lazina!

Lazina:

Bluetooth isn’t a term that’s new to us in the connected world, but it seems that it is still a relevant term for IoT applications, why was there a buzz at CES 2024?

Mohammad:

Indeed! There was a lot of buzz around Bluetooth for typical IoT solutions like connected health, smart home, etc. but more so related to the new LE Audio standard.

Lazina:

Audio and Bluetooth are not two strange words to put side by side, in fact, Bluetooth Classic’s main use case is still for audio today… how does LE Audio differ from Bluetooth Classic?

Mohammad:

While the two may seem related, they are incompatible.

LE Audio came about to solve the limitations of Classic but also introduced a whole new set of features and support for use cases that were not possible before.

For example, more efficient use of radio airtime (leading to lower power consumption), higher quality audio, the new broadcast use case, standardized support for hearing aids, and lots more.

Lazina:

Does that mean Bluetooth classic will be an obsolete technology when BLE audio will be widely adopted?  What is or has prevented LE Audio from being rapidly adopted today by manufacturers? What are the complexities that made this impossible before and now?

Mohammad:

I wouldn’t say we’re anywhere close to the point where Classic Audio will become obsolete.

However, there will be a long period of time where you’ll see many more dual-mode devices with a focus on LE Audio to support new features, especially Auracast (broadcast audio)

Also, keep in mind that in some industries (automotive, for example), the life cycle and adoption rate of new technologies is much slower than in consumer, healthcare, etc.

Typically, new standards take up to 2-3 years for them to start appearing in end products, so I wouldn’t say it’s taking a lot longer for LE Audio

With that said, though, the slow rate of adoption may be due to the complexity of the standard and the fact that implementing it requires a large amount of effort compared to previously released standards.

Add to that the fact that some manufacturers only have experience with Classic (and no LE) while others may have experience with LE (but not audio-related) experience.

Lazina:

When do you predict BLE audio and Auracast will be 100% adopted?

Mohammad:

It’s not easy to predict a specific timeline, but we’re already seeing new LE Audio and Auracast products being released in the market on a daily basis, ranging from broadcaster devices to earbuds and wireless speakers and hearing aids.

I expect that within a couple of years, we’ll see a much faster.

Lazina:

Currently, Classic BT Turnkey Audio solutions are readily available by IC and module vendors that fully integrate all the hardware and software needed to build Bluetooth speakers, microphones, or headphones.  Are there any full turnkey solutions from a single IC or module partners that support these vertical audio markets? If not, do you think there will be?

Mohammad:

NXP, Infineon, Nordic Semiconductor, etc.

I think we’ll see more and more LE Audio development platforms get released in the next couple of years.

Lazina:

Which new Bluetooth trends do you anticipate seeing in 2024 and beyond?

Mohammad:

There are quite a few advancements being made behind the scenes, primarily to Bluetooth LE

Obviously, the details of these are confidential and you’d have to be a Bluetooth SIG member to get access to this information, but some of the publicly announced new features include: channel sounding (high accuracy distance measurement), higher bands support (such as 5 or 6 GHz), and higher throughput (higher than the current 2M maximum)

Lazina:

If someone is interested in BLE development, audio or not, what are some resources that can help them get started?

Mohammad:

There are many resources out there that can be helpful for learning LE development. Some of these include books (second edition of my book was released a few months ago), the Bluetooth SIG website, vendor forums, online videos on YouTube, and my own Bluetooth Developer Academy where I host workshops, on-demand training videos and tutorials, and a private forum.

Lazina:

Thank you so much once again for joining us today, Mohammad!

If you’d like more information on BLE Audio modules, Auracast or just information on BLE, please feel free to reach out to your local future electronics representative or visit us online at FutureElectronics.com. Thanks for watching, and I’ll catch you next time on TechVentures with Lazina!


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