Bose’s latest true wireless earbuds, the Sport Open Earbuds, are designed to keep you aware of your surroundings while you listen. While most other earbuds sit inside the ear canal, blocking out at least some ambient noise, the Sport Open Earbuds instead sit outside it. Bose has officially announced the earbuds a little over a month after their existence was leaked via a Federal Communications Commission filing.
A design that lets in ambient noise might sound unintuitive, given how headphone manufacturers (including Bose) spend so much money trying to do the exact opposite with noise-canceling tech. But there are plenty of instances where being aware of your surroundings is a very good thing, like when you’re cycling through traffic or going on a run after dark.
Different headphone manufacturers have used a variety of approaches to achieve a similar effect. For example, bone conduction headphones, like those produced by Aftershokz, vibrate against the sides of the wearer’s head, allowing them to hear music without having earbuds in their ears. It’s also becoming common for earbuds like the AirPods Pro to include some kind of “ambient” or “transparency” mode, where they use their microphones to hear ambient noise and mix it with music.
Bose’s approach is a little different. Rather than sitting inside the ear like most earbuds, the Sport Open Earbuds “gently grip the ear’s outer ridge” and sit above the ear canal. Bose claims this allows them to work with “no ear tip, virtually no skin contact, and without the squeezing and vibrations from bone conduction.” It adds that only the wearer should hear what the earbuds are playing, even at high volumes.
In terms of specs, Bose is promising the earbuds will provide eight hours of battery life on a charge, have a dust and water resistance rating of IPX4, and support Bluetooth 5.1. They can be controlled with a button on each earbud (one for activating a paired phone’s voice assistant and one for controlling playback), and there are microphones built into them for making calls. They come with a carrying case and charging base and can be controlled with the Bose Music App.
Bose is only releasing the Sport Open Earbuds in the US for now, where they’re available in black and retail for $199.95. Preorders open today, and the earbuds will be available starting in mid-January.