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Warby of X: Doppler Labs’ AI Hearing Aid, Here One

Imagine being able to filter out the sounds around you or adjust the volume of certain parts of those sounds.

Through its augmented intelligence embedded earbuds, startup company Doppler Labs may just make the listening experience more customizable for each individual. Whether it’s listening to a favorite song, blocking out all external noises or blending the two together for a more enjoyable bike ride into work, Doppler Labs’ Here One earbuds may help bring people’s ideal experience a bit closer to a reality.

With Here One being launched just a year ago last June, it’s not the only one in the cordless headphone space. There are a few competitors including the likes of Apple’s AirPods and Bose’s Hearphones. What makes Hear One different, and perhaps gives it the upper hand, is its ability to fine tune surrounding sounds. Essentially, Hear One places a small smart computer inside people’s ears to provides wireless music streaming via bluetooth and helps control the various outside frequencies.

Think of the next time there’s either a screaming baby on a plane or a very loud cellphone talker on the subway car. Here One has the capability to remove those irritating sounds, which it calls Adaptive Listening.

Doppler Labs’ CEO and co-founder, Noah Kraft, commented to Uproxx about this new way of listening via the Hear One earbuds. He said “Once we can mimic your ears, we can do a lot of incredible stuff on top of that. So we can amplify the world. We can reduce the world. We can add filters. For example, an airplane filter will cut out the jet engine, but not the human voice. You can be sitting on an airplane and you can talk to the flight attendant without hearing the rumble of the jet engine.”

The future plans for what Doppler Labs hopes to do with its Hear One listening device seems to be on a massive scaling effort. Kraft believes Hear One is the next biggest idea to hit the digitalized industry. He said, “Just as Microsoft put a computer on every desk, and Apple put one in every pocket, we want to put a computer in every ear.”

Founded in 2013, Doppler Labs has already raised over $50 million for its endeavors and can count its several high-profile partners including SoulCycle, New York Mets, Universal Music Group and the New York Philharmonic. Just this year, Doppler Labs has extended its executive team by hiring from top tech companies including Amazon and Nest as well as Microsoft.

Now that Doppler Labs has developed and launched this product, the next step it would like to see happen is the ability to sell the Hear One device as a special over-the-counter hearing aid. At this time, Doppler Labs is only allowed to market Here One as a smart wireless earbud and sell it online due to certain FDA regulations.

The company is, however, lobbying for a bill — the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016, proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Senator Chuck Grassleuy (R-Iowa) this past December. Through this bill, those with mild hearing loss would be able to buy over-the-counter hearing devices like Doppler Labs’ HereOne without paying massive amounts of money. Currently, HereOne is available online for $299.

Senator Elizabeth Warren commented in a session to Congress on the importance of being able to enhance the listening process at an affordable rate. She said, “Imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t hear well enough to carry on a meaningful conversation with someone, or talk on the phone. It’s devastating and is related to social isolation, depression and even dementia.”

Similar to Warby Parker’s efforts to remove the middleman in the eyeglass industry, Doppler Labs is working to do the same for the hearing aid arena. If the above bill is passed, with the help of Doppler Labs’ lobbying efforts, it could cause a pause for concern in what some may have thought of as a $6 billion industry that wouldn’t see disruption on any level.

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