Earbuds are Here

Here Doppler Labs EarbudsDoppler Labs has just announced the close of its Series B funding round at an impressive $17 million. Those who have invested now include The Chernin Group, Wildcat Capital Management, Acequia Capital, Live Nation Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and WME, to name a few. 

Their product?

The Here Active Learning System: earbuds that do the exact opposite of tuning out the outside world.

The Earbuds

Here isn’t plugged into anything; the ear buds allow users to revolutionize the way they hear the world around them. Specific sounds can be picked out and then amplified or reduced, enabling users to turn down screaming babies and engine noises on a plane, or turn up the bass at a concert. Additionally, sounds can be enhanced through effects such as reverb, echo, and flange.

CEO Noah Kraft is emphasizing the importance of consulting with musicians (including Hans Zimmer and Tiesto) as well as users, employing a Kickstarter campaign to have over 2,800 backers test out the first version of the device.

The Technology

The earbuds must pick up sound using microphones, filter it, and then play it through speakers in real time. How is this accomplished? How do microphones and speakers actually work?

To start out, microphones have a speaker, a coiled metal wire, a magnet, and a diaphragm. Sound comes in and pushes the diaphragm, which is connected to the wire coil. As the wire coil gets pushed back and forth within the magnet’s magnetic field, the movement creates fluctuations in electric current, which is emitted in a signal from the other end of the wire.

Diagram of a microphone; a speaker moves in the opposite direction

Intuitively, speakers work the opposite way: electric signals travel through the coil, which is wrapped around the magnet. As the signal fluctuates, another magnetic field is created that pushes against the pre-existing magnetic field, which causes the metal coil to move back and forth, pushing against the diaphragm. Lastly, the diaphragm pushes air back and forth, creating sound.

Given the use of electric current to transmit sound signals, it wouldn’t be surprising that the earbuds could take in sound, alter it, and then transmit it to the user almost instantaneously.

 

So what do you think? Are you interested in the Here’s functionality?

 

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