Doppler Labs Takes Hearables a Step Further with Here One Wireless Earbuds

July 5 2016, 04:00
As we said previously, the race is on for the winner of the full-wireless earbuds challenge. Doppler Labs is the latest contender with their Here One hearables, promising “The Future of In-Ear Computing”. The difference is this is not your typical crowdfunding project, but a company working for the past three years to perfect the Here One concept, exploring the full potential of personalized earbuds.

The Here One team combines a diverse group of engineers, creative thinkers, designers, and investors who come from companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Palantir, and Dropbox “passionate about creating technology and experiences that improve daily life and make computing more human.”

Now available in pre-order on their website, and promised to ship November 2016, Doppler Labs claims their Here One wireless earbuds to be the first all-in-one, truly wireless listening system. With two smart buds and a connected app allowing to stream music, take phone calls, reduce unwanted noise, amplify speech, access Siri and Google Now, and more, the concept also focuses on selectively choosing what the user wants to hear or doesn’t. As Doppler Labs explains in their Here One presentation, “everything else is just a headphone.”

Doppler Labs started by developing the concept of “Here Active Listening”, combining audiology with the latest technologies in wireless audio, not pretending to offer simply a better audio experience, but something more in line with advanced wearable concepts and immersive computing. Their first available product, “Here Active Listening, the predecessor to Here One, was released in a limited 10,000-unit production run in January 2016 to an exclusive group of early adopters, influencers, and partners.

This first version of Here offered a limited feature set, providing real-world volume control, EQ, and sound effects. Through an exclusive partnership with the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, one of the largest live music events in the world, thousands of attendees personalized their festival experience using the technology, and choosing optimized presets for specific stages. The experiment enabled the company to gather feedback to improve the technology, which was incorporated into the Here One concept.

Doppler Labs states that audio and voice will be a key part of the next wave of computing. “We believe that by moving CPUs, sensors, speakers, and mics onto the body — and specifically into the ears — we can make computing more immersive, more human, and get you out of your screen. We believe in order to achieve this, we must create products that are worn proudly, as much a function of fashion as a piece of technology.”

Here One is now being introduced as the first all-in-one wireless listening system, combining the functionality of conventional headphones — streamed music and wireless phone calls — with proprietary smart listening and noise filtering technologies. This allows reducing environmental or targeted noise, amplifying speech, accessing Siri or Google Now, streaming music, taking phone calls, or layering digital audio over real-world sound (like streaming music while staying safely aware of what’s around you).

The feedback gathered by the company with their first production run confirmed that users are interested in this type of “augmented audio” experience. As the company states, “there’s much more excitement around real-world sound control than we expected (and a desire for even more control over unwanted noise), and also overwhelming demand to combine Here’s core functionality with music streaming and phone calls.”

Doppler Labs also says clearly that the Here One will be developed as “the first in-ear computer, and a platform we can build on for years to come.” Combining multiple microphones, the solution wants to enhance voice interaction with smart A.I.s (Siri, Google Now, Alexa, Cortana) and interaction with computers. The same microphones also allow the user to combine music listening or listening to a game commentary, while still listening to surrounding sounds.

The concept explores the fact that headphone users increasingly want to keep their devices on, “even in social settings or places where you need to easily communicate or interact with the world around you.” Combining adaptive noise filters and amplification the company’s wireless earbuds allow users to selectively cancel or amplify particular sounds — such as human speech, sirens, a crying baby, a jet engine, etc.- providing up to 22dB attenuation and at least 6dB enhancement. For every application preset, the user is also able to control the original EQ, volume, sound effects, and create personalized presets.

This also explores the increasing perception that earphones are a combination of leisure devices and communication tools with hearing assistants which will help users compensate for hearing deficiencies and adjust the system for daily use in any situation. Still, the company is not advertising the Here One earbuds as “hearing aids” or a medical device.

Otherwise, there’s no technical details to speak of, other than the confirmation that this will be a Bluetooth low power device,  and that the battery life will provide up to 3 hours of power for both ambient sound control and audio streaming, knowing that this will depend on the use of the device, since some settings are more computationally intensive than others.

For $299 (pre-orders in U.S. only for now) the Here One includes a compact carrying case, which combines charger and battery, providing an additional 2 charges for the earbuds. The case and earbuds are available in white or black finish and ship with three different sizes of ear tips. The company also says the Here One will start shipping and be available for purchase at retail November 2016.
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