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Windows 11 to Directly Pair with Hearing Aids with Bluetooth LE Audio

Windows 11 will support use of hearing aids equipped with the latest Bluetooth Low Energy Audio (LE) audio technology
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New hearing aids with LE Audio will be able to directly pair, stream audio, and take calls on Windows 11 computers.

Microsoft has announced that Windows 11 will take a significant step forward in accessibility by supporting the use of hearing aids equipped with the latest Bluetooth® Low Energy Audio (LE Audio) technology. New hearing aids with LE Audio will be able to directly pair, stream audio, and take calls on these Windows PCs and devices based on the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25977.

In May, Microsoft announced Bluetooth LE Audio support which has a growing number of devices using this technology. The company says it expects to introduce additional capabilities to the hearing aids on Windows, such as controlling audio presets directly within Windows settings.

As reported last year by HearingTracker, Bluetooth LE audio is a big deal for hearing aid and cochlear implant users for several reasons. This technology is the next generation of Bluetooth audio technology that will reduce power consumption, minimize latency (time delays in signal transmission), and enhance bandwidth for improved sound quality.

Auracast is also part of this new Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) standard. Auracast allows for shared audio experiences by turning an Auracast-enabled device (e.g., smartphone, iPad, computer, etc.) into a transmitter that can then broadcast its audio signals to as many as 1,000 other Auracast-enabled receivers like earbuds, hearing aids, and headphones. Essentially, Auracast provides for many different accessible audio streams from multiple transmitters.

This means you can tune into and receive transmitted audio from a specific TV, airport kiosk, lecturer, arena, or auditorium PA system, etc. You can also use an Auracast transmitter to turn your smartphone or audio device into a broadcast channel so people can listen to your music, podcasts, or other audio files.

ReSound recently announced that its Nexia hearing aids can receive Auracast broadcasts, and Signia reports its Integrated Xperience (IX) hearing aids are "Auracast-ready." You can expect other hearing aid manufacturers to introduce new models that use this new Bluetooth LE broadcast standard.

In related news, Apple announced in May a suite of improvements for accessibility in its devices, among those being that Made-for-iPhone (MFi) hearing aids will be able to pair directly with Mac computers.

Karl

Editor in Chief

Karl Strom is the editor-in-chief of HearingTracker. He was a founding editor of The Hearing Review and has covered the hearing aid industry for over 30 years.