Here One: Headphones You Can Leave In


hunter-here-good Consider wrapping up an empty box for your favorite tech junky this holiday season – not because he or she already owns every gizmo and gadget out there, but because the ultimate gift for them isn’t hitting shelves until 2017.

Here One earpods, the latest product of Doppler Labs are not due to ship until February 2017 This new device is almost clever enough to make you let go of the fact that the iPhone 7 is missing a headphone jack. With Active Listening technology, the software of Here One was released in a limited production promotion in January to a group of early adopters, influencers, and partners. They even held a silent disco-esque event last winter where members of the audiences listened to remixed live shows of violinists and jazz pianists.

This version of Here offered a limited feature set, providing real-world volume control (so you can tune out of unwanted conversations), EQ, and sound effects, but the final product—a pair of sleek earbuds—is chock-full of innovative elements. While average noise-cancelling headphones can tune out jet engines during a flight, Here One buds active a close-range audio zone so that you can ask a flight attendant for extra cookies without pausing the Hamilton soundtrack.

Here Active Listening raised over $600 thousand on Kickstarter with the foundation offering users the opportunity to curate certain noises to shape the way they listen to the world around them.

An accompanying app lets wearers create a “listening profile,” but the dynamic idea behind the pods is to permit machine-learning algorithms to establish listening parameters through location and personal data. Here One can tap the GPS in your smartphone to know when to start and stop music playback in, say, an office setting. This technology positions the earbuds to eventually be an always-in device, basically living in your ears.

Doppler hopes that the buds act less like music-listening hardware and more like computers for the ears, letting users determine all the sounds of their days. When worn in a noisy place a like a bar, Here One lets you switch the rear listening zone setting to either tune out people behind you and hear the person in front of you or tune out the people in front of you to eavesdrop on the conversation taking place behind you.

"Most times, if you see someone with earbuds in, you leave them alone.” said Noah Kraft, Doppler Labs CEO. “But we've created a porous, social product."

Retailing for $299, Here One is nearly double the price of Apple's announced-yet-also-delayed AirPods, but they promise to do far more than just reproduce sound without a cord. Kraft said that Doppler has received nearly 10,000 preorders and is working diligently to arrange partnerships with museums, performance venues, and sports teams to promote the pods AR functionality. Think layered real-time game commentary filled with scores and stats, or whispered details of an upcoming symphony at the philharmonic. NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers have Doppler’s smart noise filters set up for Cleveland's Quicken Loans arena, so you can "selectively filter out crowd noise" and just hear sounds from the court. Baller.

Other partners include JetBlue, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Coachella, and Gimlet Media, where audio integrations will be used to transform real-world experience.

It’s a real bummer that these earbuds are being delayed past the holidays, but given the wireless issues that people seem to be experiencing post-iPhone-7 release, hopefully Doppler Labs is taking its time to deliver something that works like it says it will. If it pays off, be prepared for augmented reality listening to change the way we listen to music entirely.

Culture, MusicKate KozuchComment