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Bose Launches 'Hearphones' That Act Like Hearing Aids (theverge.com) 65

Bose has launched a new pair of earbuds called Hearphones that augment the sounds of the world around you, letting you select what kinds of outside noises you'd like to listen to. "Hearphones users can also pick which direction those outside noises come from, with what appears to be specific emphasis on helping people hear voices better in crowded places," reports The Verge: A "Bose Hear" app was recently added to the App Store, and offers a little more detail about what Hearphones are capable of. You can turn the "world volume" up or down, and change the direction you're hearing those sounds from. There are preset modes like "television," "focused conversation," "airplane," "doctor's office," or "gym," all of which presumably block out different sounds from different directions while letting in things like speech. A user manual was also recently submitted to the FCC. No pricing or availability can be found anywhere on Bose's website or in the app. Here's some more from that app's description: "Innovative technologies amplify softer sounds, let you turn down the distractions in noisy environments and focus on what you want to hear -- like a conversation across the table. You can also use them as controllable noise cancelling [sic] wireless headphones for your music or calls or just for quiet. Take control of the noise, and hear the world better."
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Bose Launches 'Hearphones' That Act Like Hearing Aids

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  • Wife (Score:3, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @07:51PM (#53456705) Homepage Journal
    First thing dudes will do is turn on the "tune out wife" setting. Amirite fellas?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It turns out that my ears came with that feature already built in to them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My grandfather used to turn down his hearing aid when he didn't want to listen to my grandmother.

      Of course, then she'd yell at him to turn it up. Sometimes he'd respond.

    • Exactly right, Mr. Trump. Grab em by the pussy!
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly right, Mr. Trump. Grab em by the pussy!

        Hillary lost, get over it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No. I love my wife and I enjoy talking to her.

    • That would bring the guys into line with the girls, who had a "ignore male" mode activated shortly after birth.
  • by BenBoy ( 615230 ) on Friday December 09, 2016 @07:53PM (#53456715)
    A couple of minutes spent with Google suggests that, contrary to my knee-jerk reaction, these would probably not be subject to regulation (see section three of this [fda.gov]. Wording for the product blurb, in conjunction with that fda document, suggest that they're thought this through :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "....these would probably not be subject to regulation..."

      The same may be said for the Alvarez/Silver adjustable Diopter eyeglasses. As long as they make no claim for _medically_ treating Myopia, they are just as legal as the $4 "Reading" Glasses sold without prescription in Walmarts.
      If it just so happens that they actually adjust far into the minus Diopter region as well, not much to worry about, anyway this is _so_ poorly "Documented"...

      These Glasses _will_ be made illegal in time; stock up now at Fry's;

      • They bear enough of a resemblance to Google Glass that you'd probably get beat up...

      • by zalas ( 682627 )

        A basic lens is pretty cheap; the cost goes up when you start adding various coatings or have to do special optics (extreme astigmatism, etc.). In fact, the frame ends up being the costliest part of my glasses, because I want ones that look good on me. I find it curious these adjustable glasses don't correct for astigmatism, though I suppose it's because you'd double the price if you had two cylindrical adjustable lenses instead of a spherical one in there.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        This has caused some outrage among those who think spending ~$300 for a pair of ~$20 Chinese Crap, isn't nearly enough.

        Actually, most places where you can get your glasses are actually owned by the same conglomerate. Even your optometrist's place is probably co-managed by the company.

        The "designer" frames may have a name attached, but they really only cost a few dollars to make (even the license fee is only a few bucks). And the lenses? Well, they're mass-produced products, so they too cost very little to m

    • But if these work as well as advertised, I'm wondering if we will see a lot of hearing impaired chrono-Americans surreptitiously buying these because they do a better job of picking desired sounds out of the auditory slush that surrounds us than the ludicrously overpriced, not-very-good hearing aids the FDA Requires them to use.

      Silicon Valley has a major disruption opportunity here.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As a chrono-American with problems understanding voices when there is a lot of background noise, I'd welcome such technology. I can hear. I just have a problem making out dialog and conversation when there is a lot going on. I really don't want to get a hearing aide for that.

      • I'm a chrono-American, and I have this problem when there's a lot of background noise: I don't like background noise. I've often joked that I look forward to needing hearing aids, because then I'll be able to turn down the rest of the world whenever I want. No "luck" so far, though.

        My late mother got a pair of $5K hearing aids a decade or so ago, but could never get used to them. They had to be programmed by the audiologist who sold them to her, and they didn't even have a volume adjustment. When she put th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is this because Bose have just discovered that half-deaf people won't notice how terrible their gear is?

    • Is this because Bose have just discovered that half-deaf people won't notice how terrible their gear is?

      Of course, the irony is that many audiophiles who pooh-pooh Bose often end up caught up in an even more expensive snake oil trap. But yeah, Bose is basically the Apple of the audio world.

      Actually, I'm a bit surprised Apple has made no move to buy them out. "Macbook: The only laptop with Bose speakers!"... it pretty much sells itself.

      They might have to remove the space bar or something to make room for it, though.

      • Apple did buy Beats, to go after the same market segment. (Sometimes-decent, always-overpriced, super-hip sound output devices.) They haven't publicized it much though. Better to maintain Apple and Beats as separate brands, and collect the markup on both. They call it "diversifying the brand portfolio". Sensible consumers call it "a ripoff".
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Better Off with Something Else.

    • by Old97 ( 1341297 )
      I own several Bose products and have tried others. Many of the products are great if you follow the instructions. Some are crap. If its not a speaker or headphone it's probably crap. If it is then it might be great or it might be crap. I loved my Bose 901's but ended up ditching them because my wife refused to decorate the house around them and their requirements. I still secretly long for that wall of sound. It's true that you could push Bose 901s to volumes that a man likes and still not provoke a
      • Bought a Bose Soundlink speaker. Failed in about 3 weeks (Bluetooth crapped out). Over accentuated bass.

        Ended up replacing it with a Sony product. After 2 years it's working flawlessly and sounds a whole lot better.

        I did like the small size of the Bose but it just didn't work.

        • I have to say that I was surprised at the apparent level of bass reproduction from the Soundlink Mini one of my colleagues brought to work last week. I'm sure it's mostly being done by accentuating mid/upper bass frequencies and possibly some psychoacoustics (adding more upper hamonics to bass frequencies, that sort of thing), but it also does move a fair bit of air. It's pretty cool what you can do with Li-ion batteries and class-D amplifier these days.

  • The first Sony Walkman had two headphone jacks plus a built in microphone even though the device was a playback only. The idea was that when two people were "sharing" the music, you could press a button so the other person could hear what you were saying. Of course, this feature quickly disappeared along with the dual headphone jacks, probaly because people rarely used this feature in practice, but a neat idea nonetheless.
    • (Citation needed)
      Not because I doubt you, but because I'm interested in whatever else such a source might have to reveal.
  • by maggard ( 5579 ) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Saturday December 10, 2016 @01:12AM (#53457783) Homepage Journal
    I was at Bose Headquarters the other day trying these out - the Hearphones are actually quite amazing.

    Physically they're a black torc that fits loosely about two thirds around the neck. Attached a bit back from the front opening are two tethered earbuds equipped with Bose's really good tips, which come in three sizes. On the right hand tether is a small remote. On the outside of the earbuds are subtle bronze colored microphones.

    Aside from being slightly smaller then other torc-style headphones they're not immediately different. They have their control on a remote, and of course the microphones on the earbuds, but nothing screams out also-for-hearing.

    Putting them on in 360 mode was like listening to a live mic through, well, very good headphones. However using the app (we were using iPods) it was easy to control the base and treble to focus on what we were listening for - voices.

    It was when the Hearphones were switched into directly-in-front mode they got exciting. In a room full of simulated loud coffee shop noise, and a dozen other demo-ees having conversations with their Bose-partners, it all faded away except for whomever I was facing.

    Face this way and I could follow this conversation, face that and the other table came in clearly. For years I've had to position myself strategically in bars, restaurants, clubs and conferences - watching folks to ensure I'm following what they're saying. Suddenly that wasn't a concern.

    I don't need hearing aids, and while I've spent some amount of time in loud clubs I've not particularly abused my ears. However coming on 50 years my ears aren't particularly reliable in noisy environments and now, suddenly, everything extraneous was muffled.

    Sometimes an advanced technology really is like magic (and a really good demo.)

    There's also a everything-in-front-of-you mode (180 degrees vs 360 degrees and about 35 degrees for those keeping track.) That would be for sitting at a table of people facing multiple correspondents.

    Of course there's an app; iOS and Android. They apologized several times no Windows Mobile version (nobody looked concerned.) However the remote is intuitively designed and did everything necessary so no needing to be rudely screen-peering in the middle of a conversation. Volume up/down, treble/base, and switching between customizable modes.

    The other big demo topic was being able to filter a TV or movie theater. Focus on the center speaker, crank the treble, and suddenly dialog popped - no more scrubbing back for what-just-got-said?

    That they're also conventional Bluetooth headphones, with the noise-cancelling Dr. Bose invented, was taken for granted.

    So, did I buy them?

    Not yet. Their price is reasonable for being top-of-the-line noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones + the Hearphone technology but, a bit rich for me. Right now. However after another chaotic holiday party, a conversation where I mishear something important, or a conference where I'm straining to make out the content - yeah, probably.

    Oh and if you're condemned to an "open office" cattle pen oh hella yeah. Selective noise cancelling with a music alternative would almost make those hellholes bearable.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How much did Bose pay you to make this post?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First sell earphones to damage peoples hearing to the point that they have difficulty with conversation, then sell them the cure to this new problem - great job :)

  • You can also use them as controllable noise cancelling [sic] wireless headphones for your music or calls or just for quiet.

    "Cancelling" is a perfectly acceptable spelling: http://grammarist.com/spelling... [grammarist.com]

    I applaud BeauHD's efforts though - it's good to see an editor here paying attention to spelling and grammar.

  • Interesting that Bose is pushing a hearing aid use case. Only yesterday I received a mail from hereplus talking about their support to the case of hearing loss. I guess this news from Bose was the inspiration behind that mail.

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