Wearable Technology: The Future of In-Ear Products
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.
Doppler Labs fmr CEO on Wearable Technology (Part 3)
After early success with DUBS and “Here Active Listening,” we decided to push wearable technology about as far as we could go. Simply put, we set out to combine all of our product success into an in-ear computer. Much like our “not another headphone” philosophy, we set out to develop a complete in-ear solution.
Here’s a summary of key features:
Telephony. Making and receiving phone calls.
Wireless Streaming. Listen to music or receive audible prompts/information.
Access To An AI. Different from Apple or Bose, creating a user profile with greater interactivity.
As you can tell, this is a lot to pack into one product – which we called “Here One.”
However, many of the features that we introduced for wearable technology have yet to be replicated to this day. For example, Here One featured selective filtering – allowing people to not only increase reverb, but to also eliminate specific sounds. So, if you were on a plane next to a crying baby, you could turn down the screams without affecting your ability to listen to music or watch a movie.
Furthermore, we expanded the mixed reality (MR) capabilities for the ears by enabling certain audio sources to provide continuous input or timely updates. For example, users could turn down the volume on a televised sporting event and still be able to hear conversations in the room. Furthermore, let’s say your assistant has a quick update to deliver. Instead of stopping the meeting or needing to read a text, your assistant could “patch” into your Here One experience and provide a low-volume update.
Most importantly, Here One represented a major disruption for hearing aid technology. Specifically, we pioneered wearable technology that could create a user profile for their ears. So, if your right ear had lower hearing capabilities than your left ear, playback would be optimized to match your auditory preferences. In the end, Here One represented our biggest dream of creating something for your ears that would never have to come off. Simply put, it could do it all.
In many ways, the product was too good.
Said differently, users couldn’t quite figure out what to do with wearable technology that could do that much. If I had to do it again, Here One should have been purely endemic or purely consumer. Unfortunately, I tried to do both and we only sold 25,000 units. In reality, we needed to sell millions of units in order to stay in business. That said, I can honestly say that the inspiration for Doppler Labs is taking shape right now.
For example, look at the success of Apple Airpods. This is a phenomenal product that represents only a fraction of what’s possible with wearable technology. To quote Nick Hunn:
“Apple’s unexpected entry into the ‘hearables’ market heralds a period of major change. The result is likely to be a faster move to wireless headphones, an acceleration in the take-up of earbuds and the prospect of an overall market revenue exceeding $40 billion in 2020.”