Noise cancellation is rapidly becoming table stakes in headphones and ear buds.
But if you've used it you know that it can also become very isolating.
So some of the smarter, more advanced, hearables now offer listen through mode.
A simple version is on Apple AirPods Pro which have a transparency mode to listen when you want and then quickly go back to noise cancellation.
More advanced versions let certain sounds through in real time while blanking most other sounds.
A good example of what you'd let through might be conversation.
This is the Olive Smart Ear.
This is everything a hearing aid isn't.
First of all it's nice and white and modern looking.
Second of all it's not that weird flesh color.
Thirdly it's very small, it's a true ear bud shape.
I'm showing it to you in the charging base, but this is the actual thing.
It's the size of today's modern, high tech ear buds, but what it does is just as much of a hearing aid.
Now you might say, okay, that's for older people.
Not really, this is intended for a wide gamut of individuals.
What it does when you first set it up is you take a hearing test in the app while you listen to this thing in your ear.
It asks you a variety of questions about what you're hearing based on that it EQs the world around you for the unique quirkiness of your own hearing.
We all hear differently, based on our genetics, based on our age, based on how we've grown up and what environment we're in.
So this is a hearing aid of sorts, but get away from that elderly concept.
Now notice I'm holding up one and it's little charging case, right?
Now these are sold singly.
They are truly a hearing augmentation device.
Later in 2020, they'll bring out these as a pair that will work as a pair so they'll also be a stereo high fidelity listening solution and calling solution as well as of course all of the other features I've told you about.
And of course, noise cancellation remains table stakes, they've got that in here as well.
Now here is a new product from New here.
We've covered them before, but the newest ones are called IQ buds to max.
What's going on here is a real focus on not just noise reduction, but noise filtration, I would call it and selectivity.
First of all when you put these in quite a few other products You do an ear test, but it's an actual ear test used in the Australian Audiology industry, it's real science.
And this will then curve or EQ these to the quirks of your particular hearing, okay.
But they also lean really hard on these devices ability to filter select sounds around you.
The idea is not to blanket reduce noise, like you probably do with the headphones you wear on an airplane, but to allow what you wanna come through and mute out the rest.
They label that concept focus.
So the idea is not to take you out of a situation by noise, blanking, but to let you focus on what it is you wanna Tune into, kinda like what you wanna see with your ears, you know what I mean?
These will be priced at 399 the pair in a case.
It's a charging case with little magnetic grabbers and all the things that are state of the art for earables these days.
Available now for preorder coming out in March of 2020.
Now, over here at Waverly Labs, the game is different.
It's all about language translation.
That's what this thing is doing.
This is called the Ambassador.
It comes out in the spring of 2020.
You'd have one, and the person you're talking to would have one, and it translates each of your languages to the other person's language.
This is a translation machine.
That's what it's really all about.
Now, why does it look like this?
Everything else is an ear bud.
Because of the gross out factor.
They realized from some earlier products that you don't wanna hand this to a cab driver, tell h I'm where you're going and have that conversation.
Have him unscrew it out of his ear and give it back to you and then, you're gonna hand it to a what?
To a waiter later?
This stays outside the ear.
That's not high-tech.
That's a very important human factor.
Now, what it does is it talks to an app on a phone.
The phone then connects up to a couple of cloud engines.
One is speech recognition.
What are you saying?
The other one is language translation.
What is it in another language?
And that all gets bounced down to other person's ear in their language and vice versa, back and forth.
The interesting thing is you can pair up to four of these on one app on one phone.
So, it could be you and three other people and each of them can be speaking their own language.
So, four devices, four languages, all cloud translated universally and all through one phone.
There's also a lecture mode on the Ambassador in case you're speaking to a large group and it's a one-way conversation, and you want the audio really good into an amplified system, you can do that as well.
Now one of my favorite prospects for the future of hearables has nothing to do with hearing.
It actually piggybacks on those functions.
This is a sample kit from a company called Valencell that's allowing some of the hearables manufacturers to this year in 2020, add things like heart rate monitoring and blood pressure detection inside of an ear wearable.
They do it with a sensor here that's using a technology called, I hope I get this right, PPG Photo plathismography.
Like how I did that?
What it means simply is this shines a light, near infrared on a piece of the body where there's some kind of blood flow.
When there's a lot of blood flowing, less light comes back.
More is absorbed.
When there's less blood flowing, more light comes back.
That's how it's able to, in simple terms, tease out pulse.
And also, extrapolate blood pressure from that.
This is a first thing technology in how small it is.
It is going out for reference designs now through the big names we know that consider putting it in their ears buds.
This seems like a when not an if, and again if we can get health technology to where people already wear something as opposed to fighting to getting on their risks or faces where they aren't already doing that.
That greases the skids to better outcomes.
The big idea behind smart hearables in my mind is that they may be the breakthrough we need in augmented reality.
That's right, no one said AR had to be visual.
Audibles are also augmenting reality when they're smart and done well, like we've shown you.
And that could be a very exciting wrinkle in the emerging field of AR.