CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM — Today, AudioTelligence has announced what it calls the ‘first universal assistive listening device’ – Orsana. The device is designed to help everyone hear clearly in noise – with or without hearing aids. In the past, solutions for hearing in noise have either been traditional hearing aids, which need additional own-brand remote microphones to work well in noise, or separate, more generic remote microphones that have to have a wired connection to earbuds.
Now, for the first time, “consumers will be able to add additional hearing enhancement to any brand of Bluetooth Low Energy enabled hearing aids, or simply enhance their ability to hear in noise by connecting wirelessly to earbuds. All using the same device.”
Orsana is a tabletop remote microphone which will leverage the new Bluetooth Low Energy, low latency codec and which is set to become a key component of the hearing enhancement offering from both hearing aid manufacturers and makers of consumer electronics. The new Bluetooth technology will allow the device to connect wirelessly to BLE enabled hearing aids or to wireless earbuds, with the low latency necessary for face-to-face conversations. Earbud manufacturers are currently developing new products which will harness BLE Low Latency, making them ideal partners for Orsana.
In another first, Orsana will be able to combine with BLE’s broadcast capability, Auracast. The new Auracast feature enables an audio transmitter, such as a smartphone, laptop, television, or public address system to broadcast audio to an unlimited number of nearby Bluetooth audio receivers, including speakers, earbuds, or hearing devices; with the addition of Orsana, everyone using that device can have their own personalized audio stream.
The world of hearing assistance is changing fast: there is no longer a clear distinction between hearing aids as medical devices and True Wireless Stereo earbuds as consumer products. In the US, it is now possible to buy hearing aids over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies, without prescription or audiology referral. At the same time, the use of wireless earbuds for hearing enhancement is growing in popularity. Orsana offers a radical new solution for hearing aid users who struggle in social situations where traditional options are insufficient.
For non-hearing-aid users, Orsana caters to the increasing demand for solutions that enable the user to hear in noisy environments, which was identified in recent research by Qualcomm. TWS earbuds are no longer used just for listening to music; hearing enhancement, video and voice calls already account for 36% of daily TWS earbud usage and this percentage is set to grow.
“The new BLE low latency codec is about to create a world of audio where wireless hearing enhancement on different consumer devices, including multiple personalised audio from one device, becomes a reality. Orsana is an important part of this new world of hearing.”
—Ken Roberts, CEO of AudioTelligence
Orsana is a compact (6 x 6 cm) and portable device which demonstrates the technology and is designed for conversations in noisy environments. It allows users to focus on the people they want to hear while at the same time reducing background noise.
Orsana is powered by AudioTelligence’s ground-breaking blind source separation technology which, unlike beamforming or AI, actually separates speech from different sources and allows the user to choose what they listen to. Clean speech is delivered to BLE earbuds or hearing aids.
“We are proud of what Orsana can achieve,” said Dave Betts, AudioTelligence’s Chief Science Officer. “But we are not stopping here. Next on our roadmap will be to put this same technology into an earbud charging case, giving consumers an all-in-one device combining earbuds and hearing enhancement.”
AudioTelligence’s technology, the power behind Orsana, can enable hearing enhancement across a range of consumer devices including earbuds, smartphones and tablets.
Orsana offers hearing aid and consumer electronics companies the opportunity to not only evaluate the effectiveness of AudioTelligence’s technology for improving hearing, but also provides them with a reference design that they can use to create and release their own assistive listening devices. These devices can be paired with their BLE TWS earbuds and/or hearing aids, giving them a quick pathway to this growing market.
About AudioTelligence Technology
AudioTelligence’s proprietary Blind Source Separation technology is the foundation of aiso™ solutions. It leverages Bayesian statistical models to process multi-microphone audio signals and separates each source of sound with a consistent spatial location into its own distinct channel of audio. It improves Signal-to-Interference Ratio (SIR) by up to 30 dB and is uniquely valuable when there are overlapping speech signals – a problem that cannot be addressed effectively with noise suppression technology alone. It functions with very low latency, even meeting the demands of face-to-face communications in hearing assistance applications.
AudioTelligence technology is available on a royalty licensing basis, offering low-cost, high-quality solutions for personal assistive listening devices and other consumer electronics products.
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