Tech

This ‘soundbar’ beams audio straight to your ears, no headphones required

Headphones are great for keeping yourself entertained without bothering anyone around you, but they aren’t perfect. Earbuds can be uncomfortable for long listening sessions and over-ear headphones can mess with your hair. 

What if you could listen to music privately without any headphones at all?

That’s the question the Noveto N1 wants to answer. One of the most intriguing audio products to surface at CES 2022, the Israeli tech company’s device looks like a little soundbar that you place on a desk in front of you. Unlike a soundbar, however, it’s not meant to fill a room with audio. Instead, Noveto claims it can transmit ultrasound through the air and place it near your ears, giving you a private listening experience that shouldn’t bother your coworkers or roommates.

The N1 is supposed to launch sometime in 2022, but no price was given at CES.

Noveto N1 on device control buttons

The on-device controls look simple enough.
Credit: Noveto

Noveto also says it has face-tracking tech which allows the sound to adjust to your head movements, theoretically providing three-dimensional audio. It can connect to devices via WiFi, Bluetooth, USB-C, or a 3.5mm headphone jack, so pretty much anything you use to listen to music should be compatible with the N1. 

There’s one gigantic caveat to this: Mashable didn’t send anyone to CES this year due to the whole pandemic thing, so none of us have been able to test the N1. Beaming audio directly from a speaker to someone’s ears without annoying other people nearby is a lofty, futuristic promise that we haven’t really seen take off in mainstream audio hardware. If it works, it could be incredible. But if there are even tiny issues, like if the audio takes too long to adjust when you move your head or if the private listening isn’t so private after all, the entire experience could be disappointing or even outright useless.

But hey, if you’re sick of headphones, just know that someone out there is trying to do something about it.

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