Qualcomm’s upcoming Bluetooth chips could bring ANC to low-cost earbuds

Today Qualcomm presented its next generation of Bluetooth systems with extremely low power consumption on a chip (SoCs). The SoCs were developed for real wireless earplugs and hearing aids and can support first-class functions such as ANC (Active Noise Reduction) and voice assistants more universally.

The Qualcomm QCC514X (Premium Tier) and the Qualcomm QCC304X (Entry / Mid Tier) both support Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Mirroring technology, which only connects one earphone wirelessly to the phone via Bluetooth. The other earphone reflects the connected earphone. When a user removes the connected button from their ear, the mirror button can quickly connect without interruption.

The SoCs have integrated hybrid ANC. Because they are designed to last longer – up to 13 hours based on a 65 mAh battery – users can use ANC with minimal impact on battery life.

The difference between the SoCs lies in the way they deal with language support. The first level, QCC514X, provides special support for Always-on Voice, which can be accessed with a wake-up word. At the entrance and middle level, the QCC304x offers voice activation at the push of a button, so that OEMs can provide voice assistant functions to reduce device costs. This could result in voice assistants becoming more widely available in real wireless earbuds.

Other Bluetooth options with extremely low power consumption may be available in the near future. At CES 2020, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced a new spin-off standard for audio called LE (Low-Energy) Audio, which includes native support for devices such as hearing aids and additional features such as audio sharing. SIG is expected to release the LE Audio Bluetooth specifications in the first half of this year.

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