This may be the last year people buy headphones. 2019 will bring with it an audio technology that might make our favorite headphones obsolete.
Noveto, an Israel based startup, promises to provide the sensation of sound right in your ears, without the need for an actual gadget in your ears. They use focused sound waves. The audio might be playing on a standalone device, which the company calls “Sowlo” that looks like a small Bluetooth speaker, or from any device that can play audio – a computer, TV, smartphone, tablet, or any other device with their technology built in.
Focused sound waves sounds similar to “directional” audio, which means the audio is emitted directly in front of the device. But if you’re not directly in front of the directional audio speaker, you’ll not be able to hear it. Noveto’s focused audio is different from directional audio. It’s “steerable”, according to Noveto co-founder and lead engineer Tomer Shani said in an interview with Business Insider. This means that focused audio can follow you around as you move, using 3D tracking technology to determine the position of your ears.
“I need to know the position of your ears in space so I know where to build my sound bubbles,” Shani told Business Insider, referring to himself as the technology. The other co-founder of Noveto is Noam Babayoff. Their CEO is now Brian Wallace, who has managed to raise funds for Noveto from some of the biggest names in the tech industry. At Magic Leap, a mixed reality company, about $1.4 million was raised.
Noveto’s technology also reminds us of VR. Although VR is an amazing aspect of technology, it hasn’t enjoyed mainstream popularity, partly because of its high prices and also because of the technical requirements like powerful computers and a whole lot of cables. Adding to this is the fact that there’s relatively less content available for VR. Noveto’s viability has quite a few positive points, like being in the same price range as midrange headphones. The source of the audio also doesn’t need to be modified in any way.
Wallace believes that Noveto’s technology can provide better sound quality than popular headphones in the future. “Are we going to replace a $10,000 home surround system? No. But can we replace 80% of what’s out there? Yes, 100%” Wallace said. Currently the focus is on giving users private audio listening experience, without wearing anything on the head or ears, and being aware of the surroundings at the same time.
The only major issue right now is what happens if you position yourself at exactly 90 degrees to the device. The sound reaches only one ear, the ear that is facing the device. The system can be positioned above the user, which might take care of this problem.
The technology is expected to hit the markets in fall 2019. “The tech is real, ready, and everything set to go,” Wallace said.