Turtle Beach asked us to check out its products at E3 this year. We knew we’d be seeing headsets, but the audio developer had a neat surprise in store for us as well.
There were definitely headsets. Lots of headsets for Xbox, PlayStation 4, and PC – everything from simple chat audio gear for Xbox One up through multiplatform headsets with “super hearing” settings that let you hear silenced footsteps.
What really piqued our interest, though, was Turtle Beach’s HyperSound Clear technology and the potential future it presents for audio delivery.
Here’s Turtle Beach on how the technology works:
HyperSound technology is a fundamentally new approach to sound delivery that utilizes thin panels to generate an ultrasound beam that carries audio through the air. The panels direct sound in a narrow, controlled beam; much the way a flashlight directs a beam of light. When an individual enters the beam, they hear immersive 3D audio, similar to wearing a surround sound headset.
Right now, the HyperSound Clear speakers I sat in front of run about $1,500 and are only available through hearing loss specialists. In short, they’re an alternative to hearing aids for those who can hear real-world sounds without a problem but have difficulty with television’s higher frequency sounds. With hearing aids costing $2,000 or more – and generally not covered by insurance – this is a potentially a very viable alternative for those in early stages of hearing loss and not ready to accept the necessity of hearing aids.
What captured our interest, though, was the variety of potential future applications for the technology. The tech really is impressive, too. The flashlight comparison is apt. Outside of the soundbeam, if you hear anything at all thanks to reflective walls or something like that, it’s a mere whisper of what it sounds like in the beam. In the beam, it’s crisp and clear. It’s almost like wearing a headset.
As me and the other guys previewing the hardware started to throw ideas around, it became apparent that the potential applications for HyperSound are nearly endless.
A kiosk like an ATM or a movie rental box could be more personalized and even play background music without giving your information to or irritating passers by. Airplanes could install the speakers into their seatbacks and do away with the waste of selling $2 earbuds. One spouse could fall asleep with white noise while the other enjoys silence. A gamer could enjoy games without having to slip on heavy headphones. Someone could listen to music in their cubicle without annoying their co-workers. The more I list, the more I think of.
At $1,500 a pop right now, these are not cheap, but the sheer number of commercial and personal applications that could benefit from the tech makes it an interesting one to watch. Turtle Beach isn’t the first name you think of when you think about hearing loss, but they’re exploring an interesting new area and this is just the beginning.