Bose has been quietly introducing some unconventional products over the last few months, including its Hearphones and Soundwear Companion Speaker, but its upcoming Noise-Masking Sleepbuds are making an unprecedented debut -- for Bose anyway. The company is preselling prototypes by way of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
"Help us put an end to sleepless nights," says a note at the top of the campaign's page. "We want your feedback to improve our latest innovation."
The Sleepbuds are slated to retail for $249, but Bose is offering several tiers of early-bird pricing with a limited supply of units available (the lowest, $150 tier sold out quickly). The Sleepbuds are "estimated" to ship to backers in February.
They incorporate technology developed by Hush, a San Diego start-up founded by three UC San Diego undergraduate engineering students. Bose has been working with Hush over the last several months to develop the prototypes and recently acquired the start-up, according Hush CEO Daniel Lee. Bose recently posted a video detailing the relationship.
A second video (see below) shows how one would wear the buds at night, as well as a companion app that pipes in soothing sounds.
"They're tiny, comfortable and replace the sounds of busy city streets, noisy neighbors or a snoring partner with soothing sounds to help you fall asleep -- and stay asleep," Bose says. "By crowd-sourcing real feedback from real people like you, who are living the problem, we can work together to ensure we're delivering on our promise."
Bose says the Sleepbuds are equipped with a silver-zinc rechargeable battery that can last two nights on a single charge. A charging case that provides one extra charge is also included. It's worth noting, too, that you can use the app to set an alarm that wakes only you and not your sleep partner.
The marketing material doesn't mention anything about the buds playing music, and we confirmed with Bose that they can't play tunes.
"In order to achieve a breakthrough form factor small enough to be comfortable for sleeping and fit a battery that supported sound playback for an entire night, we made the conscious design decision to not stream audio," a Bose rep told CNET. "Instead, we've included 10 'soothing' sound files that are stored locally on each sleepbud, which dramatically extends the playback time. These sounds were engineered by Bose to maximize masking efficiency and/or facilitate relaxation."
As with any crowdfunding campaign, we always remind folks that there's a chance the product you back may never ship. But with a well-established company like Bose behind this campaign, the risk seems pretty small.