There are a lot of exciting things happening with earphones at the moment. Wireless connections are getting better, the buds themselves are becoming less noticeable, and a number of companies are offering “augmented audio” that filters and enhances your natural hearing. A new startup from the UK, though, is combining all of these ideas with a product design we’ve never seen before. Meet the Hy, currently raising funds on Kickstarter.
The Hy’s key feature is its patented wishbone-shaped speaker, which braces itself against the inner walls of your ear canal. It uses both bone conduction and regular speaker tech to transmit sound, but the product’s creators, Third Skin, promise that it also leaves your natural hearing completely unimpeded. After all, there’s nothing blocking up your ear — just a slim bend of plastic placed inside it.
The rest of the earphone sits behind your ear looking like molded plastic slug. This component houses the Bluetooth connection, microphone, infrared gesture sensor, motion trackers, and battery, which Third Skin claims is big enough to deliver more than twice the longevity of “other leading wireless earbuds.” You’ll be able to use the Hy for listening to music and making call, says the company, but it’ll also be able to track your workouts and act as a hearing aid, amplifying sounds around you.
It’s a very impressive spec list, but we’ll have to wait to try the Hy for ourselves before passing judgement. None of these features mentioned are impossible, but combining them is a big ask and raises a lot of questions. How well will the microphones work? Is the sound quality going to be limited by the speaker design? Will the battery life meet expectations? Will the Bluetooth connection be stable enough for everyday use? There’s are all problems that have stymied other companies working on similar products.
It’s an exciting design though — inconspicuous and jam-packed with features — and a perfect example of where earphones are headed: offering more and showing less.