Want to Have Superman Hearing? The Here Active Listening System Can Help

Image credit: Doppler Labs, from the official Here website

Image credit: Doppler Labs, from the official Here website

A startup plans to introduce a device that will provide users “Superman hearing.” Doppler Labs made public the close of a $17 million Series B investment round. Part of the fund will be used to pursue the company’s Here Active Listening System. Interestingly, the said investment round received contributions from some of the biggest players in the music industry including Universal Music Group, WME Entertainment, and LIve Nation Entertainment. The investment will also be used in expediting the production of new technology and products as well as in the hiring of new employees.

Here Active Listening System

The Here Active Listening System is touted as the flagship technology of Doppler Labs. It is a wireless interactive listening system that involves the use of wireless earphones and an app to control what can be heard through the earphones. As described on its official Here website, this new technology is supposedly going to change the way people hear the world. It has earned good feedback from major websites including David Pierce of Wired who says that “The world sounds a lot nicer with Here in my ears.”

The Here Active Listening System has been put on Kickstarter in June this year and has since received $635,189 in pledged funding. The goal is just $250,000.

Main Functions and Features

The Here Active Listening system is not designed to enhance or modify prerecorded audio. It is also not a music player or enhancer. It does not stream music from the Internet. What it does is to give its users better control over the things they hear at the moment. It acts as an instant audio studio that can manipulate the sounds a user hears in real time.

The Here app that will be installed on smartphones provide a volume knob, equalizer, and a number of effects for transforming audio to achieve an optimal listening experience. It can do noise suppression or cancelling, the addition of reverberation when listening to a live performance, increase the volume of the sounds, and apply a number of sound effects including reverberation, flange, bass boost, echo, and noise mask. Through these effects you can make a live music performance in a small room, for example, sound like it is being held at a wider concert hall. There are also filters designed to stylize sounds or achieve the kind of acoustics you might find more preferable. Additionally, you can make use of presets to quickly change your settings according to the environment you are in.

Image credit: Doppler Labs, from the official Here website

Image credit: Doppler Labs, from the official Here website

How It Works

The makers of Here claim that the technology used in it is fundamentally different from other audio technologies that try to achieve the same results. With Here, multiple signal processing algorithms are used to produce specific frequency ranges that transform sound as it is detected by the system and passed on to the ears. Each of the earbuds comes with a microphone to capture sounds and converts these sounds according to the desired settings without perceivable latency. According to the makers of the system, the processing takes less than 30 microseconds.

Basically, the smartphone in which the Here app will be installed only serves as an interface to the Here active listening system. It does not do any processing. Hence, it does not have to have top level specs. The earbuds themselves handle the sound processing to ensure that sounds are heard at the same time as they could have actually been heard by the ears.

Here connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth pairing. There is no option for wired connection. Each earbud comes with a rechargeable battery that is slated to last for around six hours. They are charged using a special charging case that is like a powerbank that can charge the earbuds for two full charges.

First True ‘Hearable’ and Superman Hearing Device

The Here Active Listening is being marketed as the “first true hearable.” It is not an earphone as it is not designed to listen to prerecorded audio. However, it is also not just a hearing aid although it can be used as one given its volume control feature. Also, the noise suppression, equalizer, filters, and effects features allow users to focus on a particular sound to get rid of interferences or distracting noises. It may not work as effectively as professional grade unidirectional or spying microphones in isolating sounds but it is enough to create a significantly better listening experience.

Image credit: Doppler Labs, from the official Here website

Image credit: Doppler Labs, from the official Here website

Availability and Prospects

Tooling and production setup is expected to have been completed by August so production may start by November this year. By the last month of the year, the first units are scheduled for shipping. Here is an interesting idea that has the potential to be more than just an accessory. We apologize for the hyped up title but this tech is a great idea that deserves attention. Soon, it may be linked to Google Glass or other wearables like the display-projecting Cicret bracelet for easier access to the Here interface. It is a great addition to the myriad of wearables already flooding the market. With the right price and marketing, it can be a successful product.