CES is all about innovation, and it was on display at last week’s conference in Las Vegas in everything from driverless vehicles and robotics to the newest audio and video technology. Despite the fact that audio had a small presence at the event owing to worries over Covid, we discovered several interesting devices, such as Noveto’s N1 smart speaker, which employs patented face tracking and smart beaming technologies to provide a personalized listening experience.
Sound is emitted at ultrasonic frequencies and follows the listener’s head, resulting in “small audible pockets beyond the listener’s ears.” The listener gets “thoroughly immersive 3D sound, while individuals close scarcely hear a thing,” according to the manufacturer. In other words, he or she has a “personal and immersive 3D binaural sound experience without headphones.”
The phenomenon is dubbed “invisible headphones” by Noveto, who claims that the N1 can suppress noise by up to 90% for anybody standing up to 3 feet away from the user. To put it another way, someone standing close to you will only hear 10% of what you hear. Despite this, the system can generate sound pressure levels (SPL) of up to 85 dB.
“Smart beaming creates a personalized, cocooned experience, elevating the relaxation of meditation, music, casual entertainment, podcasts, and sound therapy,” Noveto says, noting that the N1 can be used as an effective desktop speaker in work-at-home environments.
“There were only two ways to listen to music in the past: out loud and openly via speakers, or quietly and privately through headphones,” the company writes on the website. “We’re offering a third mode of listening…a personal 3D sensory listening experience that doesn’t annoy others – no speakers or headphones.”
So how’s it work?
The audio is placed just beyond the user’s ears using non-audible acoustic waves and beamforming. The unique Noveto transducer array, which is controlled by Noveto’s patented chipset and software, pushes acoustic waves into the air, while a “3D sensor module and camera incorporated into the hardware locates and monitors the location of your ears in real-time,” according to Noveto.
“Move your head in any direction to hear the two sound pockets. The sound is audible as regular acoustic waves, thus it won’t bother anybody around. Furthermore, the technology can create 3D spatial sounds and deploy them wherever in space independent of head movement.”
The Wi-Fi-enabled N1 sits on an adjustable stand and is tiny enough to fit on a desk without taking up too much space. The speaker has an “intuitive” circular LED display and top-mounted controls for volume, Bluetooth connectivity, and muting its array of microphones, as well as Amazon’s Alexa speech platform and facial ID. A USB-C connector and a 3.5mm minijack input/output are located on the rear of the device.
The N1 speaker is made of metal and comes in a matte black finish. It can also be operated with the associated iOS/Android Noveto App. Production was set to begin in December, with price and availability in the United States to follow.