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January 20, 2021
Advancing multi-connection technology has expanded the functionalities of Bluetooth® connectivity-enabled devices from motorcycle/scooter helmets to universal dongles.
As explored previously, True Wireless Stereo (TWS) audio is making a boom in the world of audio technology. However, while TWS wireless earbuds represent an exciting step in Bluetooth® connectivity-enabled audio, they are just one of the many technologies that are being driven forward by cutting-edge Bluetooth audio technology.
Bluetooth dual-mode multi-connection master devices equipped with chips that support multimode functionality through hands-free profile (HFP), serial port profile (SPP), and Bluetooth Low Energy have opened the door to a variety of compelling applications. Below, we dive into some of the most interesting use cases for Bluetooth dual-mode connectivity, including motorcycle/scooter helmets, human interface devices (HID), and OTT boxes, STBs, and TVs.
The popularization of Bluetooth — and the introduction of Bluetooth LE in particular — has greatly expanded the possibilities for what motorcycle and scooter helmets can be. Bluetooth-enabled helmets not only deliver entertainment features like music streaming, but also deliver a range of safety-enhancing features.
For many riders, it is worthwhile to upgrade their helmet to an audio gateway device that transmits and receives various types of audio and IoT data. In fact, while the total value of the smart helmet market stood at just over $400 million in 2019, it is projected to enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 13.8 percent over the next seven years, hitting $1.1 billion by 2027.
Here are three key benefits of Bluetooth-enabled helmets that are driving this market growth:
1. Enhanced Communication
Helmets that are Bluetooth-enabled and have headsets and microphones built in facilitate two types of hands-free communication. First, riders are able to take calls through their phones with just the touch of a button on their helmet’s headset. Since most smartphones include text-to-speech and dictation features, riders can even listen and respond to text messages and emails without taking their eyes off the road. Second, some smart helmets support keyword detection and command recognition for remote control, which frees riders’ hands, significantly improving the riding experience and reducing the risk of accidents.
2. GPS Integration
Similarly, Bluetooth-enabled helmets allow riders to interface with their GPS without compromising safety. Whether a rider is using their phone for navigation or a standalone GPS device affixed to their handlebars, they can pair their helmet with their navigator to access directions with ease. This helps riders avoid traffic, prepare for adverse weather conditions, and get directions to a new destination after receiving a call — all in a safe, hands-free manner.
3. Entertainment Playback
Bluetooth-enabled helmets eliminate the need for wired headphones used to listen to music, podcasts, and other entertainment while on the road. If a device that is being used as an audio gateway is equipped with the latest Bluetooth LE audio codec, LC3, the device can stream audio to both a driver’s and a passenger’s helmets simultaneously. Such audio broadcasting capabilities enable helmets to receive multiple types of audio at the same time — a navigation instruction playing over the top of the radio, for instance — meaning riders do not have to fumble around trying to switch from one audio source to another. Audio multitasking also allows riders to conduct an intercom conversation while listening to streaming music, the radio, or GPS instructions.
As the number of digital devices (smart and not) in consumers’ homes continues to grow, finding ways to keep things simple without compromising performance has become increasingly important. When users have to constantly untangle wires or cycle through multiple controllers, the key value proposition of digital technology — namely, convenience — starts to disappear.
Fortunately, universal dongles built on Bluetooth dual-mode chips streamline the creation of multi-device ecosystems, enabling consumers to connect all the devices they need for a particular task (or group of tasks) through a single dongle. Here are two of the most common applications for universal dongles in the consumer space:
1. Human Interface Devices (HID) and Audio Sets
Connecting multiple devices — a keyboard, a mouse, headphones/external speakers, and so forth — to a computer via Bluetooth can create a noisy environment that compromises connectivity and performance. However, by plugging a universal dongle into a laptop’s USB port, users can easily operate multiple wireless HIDs like a keyboard or mouse or wireless Bluetooth-enabled headphones through a simple but powerful Bluetooth connection.
2. Host Controller Interfaces (HCI) for OTT Boxes, STBs, and TVs
Consumers want to be able to connect to and control their entertainment with a variety of devices. A universal Bluetooth Classic/Bluetooth LE controller solution like Telink’s provides a standard HCI and supports connections with a range of Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth LE devices, including remote controls, gaming controllers, keyboards, and headphones/external speakers. By embedding a TLSR9 series chip in an OTT box’s, STB’s, or TV’s motherboard, manufacturers give users the ability to enjoy extended Bluetooth functionality across their home entertainment ecosystem.
Telink’s TLSR9 series is designed to support Bluetooth Classic connections with mobile and audio devices, Bluetooth LE connections with IoT devices, Bluetooth dual-mode multi-connections, local keyword spotting and command recognition, and much more. Our ultra-low power solutions ensure long device battery life, deliver ultra-low latency, and help developers reduce their supporting hardware costs when producing devices like helmets, universal dongles, HIDs, OTT boxes, STBs, and TVs.