The Earbud That's Like Google Glass For Your Ears

David McNew/Getty Images for Coachella
A view of the Coachella Stage on day 2 of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2016 in Indio, Calif.

Isn’t there a better way to turn down background noise and turn up what you want to hear than sticking something in your ear? Noah Kraft, the CEO of the San Francisco technology startup Doppler Labs, believes that many of us will eventually wear in-ear computers that will give us more control over what we hear.

Doppler’s first mass-market product is the Here One, wireless earbuds that connect to a smartphone app and let users turn certain sounds up and down, in order to muffle background noise, turn up close-up conversation, or better focus on music. “We’re listening to certain frequencies and signals and selectively cancelling them,” says Kraft, adding that the Here One works differently than existing noise-cancelling headphones. The idea is Google Glass for your ears -- that you can wear without looking like a cyborg.

“If Steve Jobs had said ‘We’re selling a computer in your pocket,’ no one would have bought one,” Kraft says. “So he sold a mobile phone that happened to have a computer in it. We’re trying to do the same thing: it’s hard to sell a computer for your ear, so we’re selling a great headphone that does all of these other things.”

How Custom In-Ears Stack Up To Earbuds

Here One will have uses that go far beyond music – “I think everyone is going to use this product differently,” Kraft says. (Doppler emphasizes that Here One is not intended to be used as a hearing aid, but it could be used to help people focus in on certain sounds.) But Doppler promoted its products at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and Here One can be used to tweak the way concert goers hear live music. “I went to a jazz club in San Francisco and the acoustics weren’t great so I added some fuzz to the sound and got a new vibe,” Kraft says. “That’s not really practical, but it’s magical.”