New assistive technology aims 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, developed by Cambridge firm AudioTelligence, 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, which makes them ideal partners for Orsana, the company says.

In another first, Orsana will be able to combine with BLE’s broadcast capability (Auracast). Auracast is the exciting new development which will enable several people to connect to one device; with the addition of Orsana, everyone using that device can have their own personalised audio stream.

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“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,” said Ken Roberts, CEO of AudioTelligence. 

“Orsana is an important part of this new world of hearing.”

Orsana, a compact 6x6cm and portable device, 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 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.”

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