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Tech Trends for 2017: Hearables

We always have our ear to the ground for the latest tech trends and we believe you'll be using headphones for more than listening to music in 2017

While advanced wearable tech featured in last year’s list, 2017 will be all about hearables.

From helping you sleep better to translating foreign languages and providing you with an artificial intelligence (AI) personal trainer – hearables look more like hearing aids than traditional earphones, and provide you with a lot more than just whatever Spotify happens to shuffle and play.

Unlike the regular one-size-fits-all headphones so commonly included when buying a smartphone, with hearables personalisation is everything and tech companies can now offer you custom-fit, wireless earphones to perfectly suit your retina.

While, we've seen the Beats By Dre-style headphones gain popularity in recent years. In 2017, subtlety and discreetness will become increasingly paramount. Which is where hearables come in.

A sure sign signal of the changing market, Apple recently removed the 3.5mm jack on the iPhone 7 and its expected to launch its own hearable, the Airpod, in time for Christmas 2016.

Although consumers expected the Airpod on shelves already, it’s rumoured that Apple has had trouble syncing audio between the two ear phones and is having to iron out issues such as what happens if the battery dies or if a consumer loses a headphone – Considerations that other businesses will need to overcome in order to achieve success in the hearable market.


Waverly Labs is launching its Pilot Translation Kit in 2017. Able to translate up to five different languages, its technology enables two people to talk to each other in different languages yet still understand one another. The wireless ear pieces are connected to its translation app via Bluetooth and relay a translation of what was said to the user – ensuring there's no communication breakdown.

Combining artificial intelligence with the gym and fitness craze, New York-based Startup LifeBeam’s Vi hearable is described as an “AI personal trainer who lives in biosensing earphones”.

Acting as a real personal trainer, Vi knows your location, environment, heart rate, breathing pace and speed. If you allow Vi to access other apps on your phone, such as Google Fit and Apple HealthKit, Vi will be able to trackyour weight, diet, activity levels, and progress so far.

Testament to the tech sector’s increased popularity, its estimated that over $45m has been pledged in crowdfunding campaigns for earbuds and stereo headphones from almost a quarter a million backers in the past two years, with sales set to hit $45bn by 2020.

How it works

Everydayhearing describe hearable tech as “a wireless in-ear computational earpiece. Essentially you have a microcomputer that fits in your ear canal and utilizes wireless technology to supplement and enhance your listening experience.”

In 2017, Startups 100-listed Kokoon Technology, will be launching the “world’s first” smart, sleep-sensing headphones.

Moulding to the contours of an individual person's head, the headphones will track and measure sleeping patterns in an attempt to help identify and elevate bad habits.

Tim Antos, co-founder of Kokoon Technology, said:

“Our ambition was to bring the science and technology of the sleep clinic to everyday consumers. This in turn opened up a huge range of possibilities as, unlike traditional wearables, we were able to ‘close the loop’ to use the EEG data we collected to inform the therapies themselves. With Kokoon the wearer doesn’t have to worry or care about the data it’s our system which uses it all to make getting to sleep as effortless as possible.

“The market for hearables is not just the tech loving headphone purchaser. With the new capabilities of hearables, we are able to address markets and problems that traditionally were far outside the headphones or activity tracker markets.”


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