Google is reportedly working on a top-secret earbuds project that will give its users supernatural hearing, according to a Business Insider report. X Moonshine Factory, the team behind the wearable device, codenamed the earbuds "Wolverine" (via 9to5Mac).
Fitbit, Pixel Buds and Glass Enterprise Edition are Google's popular wearables, but now the search-engine tech giant is ready to add a new device to its portfolio. Wolverine will be packed with sensors and microphones to make it a killer in-ear device, but the X Moonshine team is allegedly facing some challenges with its development.
Wolverine can isolate sounds in a room
One of the most standout features of Google's top-secret earbuds is that they can isolate sounds. For example, if you're in a busy cafe and you want to drown out all the unwanted noise and specifically focus on your talkative friend, Wolverine has the ability to segregate speech using an array of sensors and microphones.
The X Moonshine Factory team, which has been working on the Wolverine project for about three years, has run into some challenges with physics and design. As a result, the earbuds have been through many prototypes in hopes of discovering the most ideal iteration for Wolverine.
The Insider report said: "Sources described crude early versions of a device that covered the entire side of the ear or protruded out from above the ear." Newer prototypes of Wolverine are reportedly a lot smaller than earlier models.
An Alphabet spokesperson confirmed to Insider that it is, indeed, "exploring the future of hearing," but did not offer more details. The sources Insider spoke to revealed that Google will not put Wolverine to market until it becomes a viable business model. In other words, speech segregation doesn't have enough marketing "oomph" — the X Moonshine Factor team also needs to provide more than just a device from the Wolverine project before Google can back it with confidence.
Google may want to watch its back, though, because Facebook is also working on a wearable device — AR glasses, to be specific — that will also offer its users superhuman hearing.
Personally, I dig the Wolverine sound-isolation concept. While commuting to work, I would have loved to tune out the cacophonous noise while focusing on sounds that matter (e.g. train announcements). With many people working from home, perhaps Wolverine would be useful for parents with rambunctious children or remote-learning students living in noisy households.
We'll keep our ears peeled for any new developments regarding Wolverine and update you on new information in the future.
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Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!