The next big thing in listening enhancement is Here. No, really. That’s the name of New York–based Doppler Labs‘ new in-ear listening system, consisting of two wireless earbuds and a smartphone app that lets you put an audio equalizer on your entire world. Cello solo at a live concert? Crank it up! Crying babies and snoring partners? Turn that noise down.
Big-name investors like it: Doppler Labs just raised $17 million in a funding round that will pave the way for the product to hit shelves in December at $249 apiece. But Here also appeals to the hoi polloi; a June Kickstarter campaign yielded $635,000 from 2800 people who signed up to be the first kids on the block with Heres. That’s got to be good news for a company that will be marketing its product to the public. (Actually, Here is Doppler’s second product. Its high-end Dubs earplug has already managed to make hearing protection sexy.)
The possibilities for those with hearing loss are tantalizing. The technology works by recording, recalibrating and replaying sounds so quickly that there’s no perceptible lag time, according to many reviews we’ve read online. And while CEO Noah Kraft came up with the idea as a way to allow his fellow 20- and 30-something concertgoers at the far end of Row 43 to have the same experience as those in the center of Row 8, co-founder Fritz Lanman predicts that in 10 years, people will be wearing them 24 hours a day. ““You put them on, and at night you can hear waves and your wife doesn’t have to hear waves. She can hear the baby crying, if she’s nursing, and you don’t have to. Neither of you have to hear the garbage truck,” Lanman told Wired.
And yes, perhaps one day you’ll be able to simply raise the volume on the frequency of your spouse’s voice or that of the person seated next to you at your niece’s very noisy wedding. Or, what the heck, turn them down. —Traci Hukill