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Friday, November 16, 2018
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Ng: The lowdown on Sowlo

I have constantly observed that people, especially those riding in trains all over the world, are very busy with their cellphones.

Over half of them are either playing games, watching videos or listening to music. A majority of them have headphones. Although there are many wearing wireless bluetooth headphones, I see many still donning the wired headsets.

Maybe soon, you won’t see them with headsets, but they may still be listening. There is a technology that may make these headphones obsolete.

Noveto Systems, an Israel-based startup, is elevating Apple’s wireless headphones by launching its focused audio device. Headed by Noam Babayoff and Tomer Shani, their company takes technology development seriously by hiring their head of physics and algorithms from Princeton University, as well as getting a science director with a PhD in condensed matter physics from Israel’s Weizmann Institute.

Dubbed as Sowlo--a mash-up between “solo” and “owl”--it is capable of emitting sound directly to the listener’s ears without the use of any device. As much as it sounds like magic, it’s not. This is made possible with the use of 3D tracking technology which pinpoints the location of the users’ ears in space.

What is even more amazing is the fact that only the programmed listener can actual hear the sound. Others won’t have a clue what you’re listening to. This steerable feature means that audio can follow you around as you move, not just aimed in a stationary position.

Sowlo’s application is not only for listening to music on your phones. Its proprietary technology can also be embedded into cars. Driving in peace while your kids blast rock music at the back is now very much possible. It can also be built into your computer screens, making conference calls less distracting to your workers in open-plan spaces or call center setups. Lastly, it can also be included into gaming systems, reducing headphone fatigue for players.

While Sowlo is still a prototype, it has worked extremely well, receiving positive reviews during its demo at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Already, Noveto founders are making plans to introduce more than just Sowlo. Babayoff and Shani plan to develop the technology capable of broadcasting audio to multiple people at once, even sending different streams of audio to different people. One person might be able to hear an English version of a movie while the other can get the Italian translation. This is very useful, particularly during international conferences, where many heads of state gather.

For now, Sowlo is expected to be made available soon. It is expected the technology could replace 80 percent of the audio products in the marketplace. While the cost of installation is around $200, Shani assures the public that the prices will drop as soon as they can begin mass production.

Hopefully, this technology can make its way to the Philippines sometime soon.


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