Wearable Technology: The First In-Ear Computer
Before the age of 30, Noah Kraft had created a whole new category for wearable technology by pushing the boundaries of in-ear computers at Doppler Labs. Creating a category is hard enough - but getting people to buy into your technology is even harder. Noah outlines how Doppler Labs built momentum with an innovative take on a "very uncool" item - which propelled success for more scaleable products.
Doppler Labs fmr CEO on Wearable Technology (Part 2)
Creating the first in-ear computer represented a whole new category for wearable technology. Simply put, no one had ever developed a product that delivered what we created. During my time at Doppler Labs, we developed three products that introduced the possibilities of in-ear computing.
Early on, we understood that we couldn’t be another headphone brand – as this category is very crowded. For example, think about the myriad of brands that you have to choose from with headphones. As a result, we focused on building something different for people’s ears. Specifically, our product journey began with a radical take on something that doesn’t scream innovation. After proving this concept, we expanded product capabilities with future releases to expand the impact of our wearable technology.
I will share the story behind our first two products. I’ll start with an earplug (not what you were expecting, right?).
DUBS Acoustic Filter.
Before we could prove the tech value of making an in-ear computer, we focused on making a cultural impact first. In other words, we decided to make products that people want to wear and level up from there. So, we took on the least-cool category we could find (earplugs). Clearly, we didn’t want Doppler Labs to be an earplug company. However, we found an opportunity to prove that wearable technology for the ears mattered. Plus, we found a way to turn an uncool product into something sexy.
Developed with live music in mind, the DUBS Acoustic Filter enabled users to improve the sound quality of a concert while protecting their ears from permanent damage. We partnered with some of the largest live music festivals (Coachella, Bonnaroo) – providing value for their business and concert-goers alike. In the end, no concert promoter wants to damage their audience’s hearing. Plus, every music fan wants to have greater audio clarity at live shows (while protecting their ears, of course).
Here Active Listening.
Instead of launching another set of headphones, we took the capabilities that we’d proven with DUBS and look it to a new level. Specifically, we focused on bringing an immersive experience with wearable technology. “Here Active Listening” allowed users to have complete control of their audio environment. For example, users had access to super-human hearing capabilities and could pick up on any sound.
In addition, users could also enhance their audio experience and effectively “DJ” your audible environment. If you pressed the “reverb” button on the integrated app, the sounds around you would recreate the same effect you’d get out of an amplifier. Most importantly, this product represented the creation of yet another category for wearable technology. In other words, this represented the first attempt at audio-augmented reality – which provides true product differentiation and compelling value for customers.