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Beam Sound To Your Ears Without Headphones

Berlin company Holoplot is working on technology that may just make the entire world of headphones completely redundant.

As explored in a lengthy Digital Trends piece, the company is working on using 3D beamforming technology to send targeted audio to a specific listener, regardless of the competing sounds. There’s no earpieces, and no devices. Just audio waves, so narrowly cast that they target one person and block out other soundwaves.

“We can create different zones so that, as you’re walking through — for example — a theme park installation, you might have one corner where you can hear animals such as lions,” Roman Sick, CEO of Holoplot, told Digital Trends.

“Then you walk a few meters and suddenly you’re in a very different space, [and now you can hear] water. Or you could have a very personal, targeted voice explaining to you something that you’re looking at [in a museum setting].”

Beamforming technology is nothing new: antennas use it to transmit signal, as do submarine sonars. Noise cancelling headphones also use it to block distracting frequencies.

Holoplot is already using this technology to ensure ‘loudspeaker’ messages at Frankfurt Central Station hit passengers as they enter the station, targeting people at a specific area as they leave the escalator.

“Interestingly, the person that is receiving the sound doesn’t always know that not everyone else is having the same experience,” Sick continued. “Because that is so clear they think that all the people next to them have received the same. But, really, it’s only them or a small group of people that have received the audio signal. Others might have received something else or nothing at all.”

While the technology is nascent, you can see how it will be a disruptive force in the tech world.

“It’s a new era of what you can do,” Sick explains. “The Walkman was a new era because suddenly you could create these personal bubbles that everyone could walk around with. We believe that, with our technology, it’s a similar quantum leap. You can create completely new experiences, some of which we probably don’t even know about yet.”