Our first thought with Augmented Reality is usually eyewear – you overlay information on the real world. But what about enhancing your audio experience of the world? Here’s where Doppler Labs comes in with a Kickstarter project that offers an in-ear listening system for – here goes – “remote control for your ears.”
Augmented Reality for your Ears
Dezeen magazine explains:
Doppler Labs’ Here Active Listening in-ear audio system comprises a pair of earbuds linked by Bluetooth to a smartphone app that allows users to “personalise every live listening experience” by adjusting the sound that reaches their ears. . . .The product features an outward-facing microphone that detects incoming sound waves, which are adapted by the digital signal processor before being relayed to the user’s ear alongside the original audio signal.
Since the device, Here, does not stream music from your phone, you might ask if we really need this. People have used hearing-aids for decades, but this is different. It’s not about restoring what you miss, but changing – curating? – your auditory experience.
Call it Instagram for your ears. The company does as they see you using their filters to transform what you hear:
Use the ‘Hendrix’ filter to rock out or ‘Blue Note’ to give your ears some time to chill.
That could surely put a new spin on meetings or sitting in class (that Sociology prof will never sound the same). And since the device is unobtrusive, no one might be the wiser.
With everything else being augmented including our sense of direction (how quickly we turn to Google or Apple maps on our phones), our ears are a ready candidate for wearable technology. The device is like a mini-music studio for your surrounding environment – volume, noise cancellation, equalization (EQ) and special effect filters.
A Wearable Tech Design Philosophy
I like the design philosophy behind Doppler Labs – it’s what all Wearable Tech should strive toward:
At Doppler Labs, we believe in a post-mobile future where tech gets out of the way of the human experience,” the team said. “We believe wearable technology should integrate seamlessly into our lives and enable us to curate our environment to our liking.
Did I hear “post-mobile” future? That’s where we’re going. And the technology should augment our environment but stay in the background. Out of the way.
Would you Wear Them?
2,855 backers beat you to it on Kickstarter and Doppler Labs raised over $600,000, far surpassing their original goal. There’s a waitlist if you want a pair.
Maybe I want my world with more bass. Or a Blue Note filter for my subway rides. I don’t know. But it will be fascinating to see where this project goes in one small corner of a budding wearable tech world.
Emory Craig is a writer, speaker, and VR consultant with extensive experience in art, new media, and higher education. He speaks at global conferences on innovation, education, and ethical technology in the future. He has published widely and worked with the US Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Living at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling, he is fascinated by AI-based avatars, digital twins, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.