Do you think bigger drivers and longer battery life are what’s in store for headphones in 2021? Think again.
Headphone junkies have spoken, and they have said they would happily sacrifice features like battery life for artificial intelligence features.
What’s so good about AI in headphones?
AI can deliver a better listening experience without the added costs of new battery tech and rare driver materials.
Algorithms and AI programs can understand your listening experience, learn your likes and dislikes, and listen to your environment to enhance your music.
Imagine headphones that automatically turn the volume down if someone is talking to you or pause your music if a siren is detected. OR, what if they could self-equalize based on your environment to create the optimal tone?
These are just a few emerging AI features we may see in 2021.
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the techiest AI features. We’ll even tell you how you can get your hands on some AI headphones now.
Active noise cancellation (ANC)
ANC isn’t anything new. Many headphones are able to cancel out low-frequency noises to create a peaceful “bubble” where you can listen to your tunes.
But AI-powered ANC is a different story.
You see, the problem with ANC is that it cancels EVERYTHING. And if you’re on the go, there are a lot of sounds you need to hear.
This means that you have to toggle your ANC on and off ALL THE TIME to interact with others and your environment (this kills your battery!). Or, you have to risk not hearing critical noises like sirens and car horns.
Artificial intelligence ANC solves this problem by selecting the sounds you need to hear and allowing them to pass through to your ears without interrupting your music. With AI ANC, you can remain blissfully oblivious in your musical bubble—except when you need to be aware.
We’ve seen this tech first-hand in the AI-powered ReduxBuds. These earbuds made a splash on Kickstarter at the end of the summer, and they’re already shipping to backers.
And the best news is that they’re on sale for a couple more weeks at their original Kickstarter early-bird rate.
Intelligent sound equalization
Equalizers are something you rarely find in headphones. Who has the time to equalize their tracks while they’re on the go?
Not only that, but most people don’t know the first thing about calibrating their music.
That makes this the perfect place for AI to step in.
Equalizing your music enhances it by calibrating different frequencies, allowing you to hear the music as it was originally intended.
If you’re in a vacuum-sealed room, you can keep your EQ static for the most part and enjoy your music. But if you’re not in the studio, sounds from your environment will interfere and throw your music out of whack.
For example, if you’re walking near heavy traffic, the vibrations and low tones might cancel out all that glorious base.
AI EQ steps in to correct this by listening to the frequencies in your environment and recalibrating your music to offset the noise pollution.
This tech isn’t quite as beneficial as the AI ANC found in ReduxBuds, but not everybody likes ANC. For those that don’t, this is a great alternative application of AI for headphones.
Next-level digital assistant
Many earbuds and headphones allow you to wirelessly access your digital assistant (Google, Siri, etc.) using voice commands. We’re expecting this to go a lot further in new headphone models.
When your DA is able to integrate with the tech in your headphones fully, you’ll be able to use your earbuds to control a lot more than your phone. Your earbuds will allow you to control your smart home, your TV, and your staff’s tablets at work. You’ll be able to tag in and out of conference calls while Siri makes reservations for dinner in the background.
How would it feel to be able to tether to the treadmill at the gym or have Siri let you know if an artist you’re listing to often is playing in concert near you?
More integrations and more powerful AI capabilities are coming soon.
Playlist or song recommendations
We know what you’re thinking. Isn’t this old news?
Ok, so playlist recommendations have been around for a while, but AI can do it so much better.
AI can learn your habits and routine, not just to make recommendations based on your listening habits but also your mood.
Accelerometers, heart rate monitors, and internal clocks are standard in many smartphones and watches. We’re expecting AIs to use this data to deliver a listening experience that perfectly matches every occasion.
- Your AI will learn your exercise habits based on your heart rate and create a motivating playlist that challenges you to beat your goals.
- AI will know when you’re tired of getting ready for bed and provide appropriate music.
- The accelerometer will detect if you’re moving at a busy or relaxed pace, and the AI will provide a soundtrack to match.
- AI will measure your physiological reaction to songs to understand the types of music you love.
And that’s just the beginning. Music players like Spotify and Apple Music are already getting integrated into headphones. It’s only a matter of time before this advanced AI teaches us more about the music we already love.
When can you get some AI-powered headphones?
It might be a few years before you can get a pair of headphones with all the AI capabilities above. But, AI headphones with some pretty awesome features are going on sale as soon as 2021, and you can even get one pair now (if you order this month).
I am one of the backers of this project on Kickstarter. I am incredibly disappointed with their service. They have delayed delivery to those that invested in them but continued to sell the product externally. In addition, those have have received the product have commented that the earbuds are faulty and that the quality is well below what they have promised. I would not recommend dealing with this company. Here is the link to the Kickstarter page if you would like to investigate the 2000 + comments from their investors https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/reduxaudio/reduxbuds-ai-powered-noise-cancelling-true-wireless-earbuds/comments