At last year’s E3, I visited Turtle Beach’s booth to check out the gaming equipment they had on the way, only to find something a lot more interesting – HyperSound. The product is meant to help the hard-of-hearing to consume audio without having to wake up the whole neighborhood or be tied to headphones the whole time. The product, which has since launched and is on the market, is primarily a medical device the same way hearing aids are. Now, though, Turtle Beach is onto the next level of HyperSound, and if the potential for the original was huge, the potential for this new version is endless.
Now, any pane of glass could theoretically become a speaker playing directed, laser focused audio.
Turtle Beach demonstrated the tech with an early prototype installed in a frame they’d printed internally, mounted on a traditional PC monitor.
The audio it outputs isn’t going to beat a good pair of headphones or a beefy set of 5.1 speakers, but for specific audio needs, it makes a lot of sense. A mobile phone’s screen could become a speaker. You could play a YouTube video on your phone, no headphones, without irritating everyone else on the bus. This would also give vendors a way to provide clear audio and waterproofing, as waterproofing often muffles audio. Laptop speakers have always been difficult to place, but this could allow the speakers to be the screen rather than having to find a spot for them in the rapidly decreasing space available. Your whole flat panel television could be the speaker.
The possibilities are endless.
The tech is still pretty early. There’s a slight tint to the glass that might make it a tough sell right now, but this tech is in the prototyping stage, something Turtle Beach’s PR Director Mac Marshall says is a few years out. It’s something they’d like to license out to hardware manufacturers once the tech is mature. Already, though, the audio is crisp and clear with some pretty good highs and mediums. Bass might be tougher to tackle, but this isn’t trying to replace sound systems.
While I wouldn’t expect Turtle Beach’s gaming audio business to go anywhere anytime soon, long-term research projects like these show that the company isn’t just tweaking existing product lines to give people a reason to re-buy them. They’re dong some really cool stuff that could change the way we listen to our devices.