Stages, a New Jersey based augmented aeality startup, took to Eureka Park at CES to show off two augmented reality listening devices. They go by the names Hero™ and the Sidekick™. These augmented listening devices provide a new level of choice and personalization to transform every day auditory experiences, as if they resemble superpowers for your ears.
Stages gives the end user two choices. You can use their headphones, the “Hero”. Or you can bring your own headphones and use the “Sidekick” which is a device that attaches to your audio source, then sits on your desk and allows you to bring your own headphones. Both products use the same core audio technology. The Hero gives you the controlled experience Stages is going for. But of course if you have your own must use headphones, the Sidekick is right for you.
Both products contain Stages’ patented technology, which combines multiple proprietary digital signal processing and speech-based algorithms, custom-designed circuit boards, dual onboard stereo audio codecs and a circular MEMS microphone array board in a platform that constantly scans a full 360-degree acoustical soundscape in real-time. This allows Stages technology to narrowly identify and capture desired incoming voices and sounds based on user preferences, drastically reducing undesired ones in the process.
Motion tracking via a 9-axis accelerometer, gyro and compass allows complete freedom of motion while preserving source and location preferences. Stages innovative command, control and communications app for iOS or Android devices provides an unprecedented level of control over what you want to hear and what you want to silence.
The Stages Sidekick allows you to use your own headphones.
When combined with the ability to choose when, and from where, ambient sound is mixed in with desired source audio, Stages’ products create a listening experience like no other. Both the Hero and Sidekick offer ambient+™ directional sound control and selective sound™ admittance gating criteria.
Users of Stages’ devices will be able to choose from which direction(s) they want to hear sounds across a full 360-degree spectrum, and can automate the experience using criteria such as keywords, speech activity, and, in a world increasingly voice-based, speaker-dependent voice profiles, which can be captured, stored and shared. Taken together, this allows users to hear what they want, when they want, to enjoy a completely immersive listening experience without ever feeling isolated again.
“As someone who has always had a passion for audiophile sound and live music, I had a vision to create an experience that would elevate everyone’s enjoyment of music — from the casual listener to the purist — by eliminating the barrier that exists between immersive listening and the ambient world around us. Now everyone can enjoy what they are hearing, without unwanted distraction,” said Stages co-founder and CEO, Benjamin Benattar.
“George Lucas famously said, ‘sound is half the picture’, and people are increasingly listening to music or soundtracks, videos or endless other forms of content while commuting, working, relaxing, exercising at the gym, participating in outdoor activities and while using augmented or virtual reality. As people become increasingly immersed in these experiences, they risk becoming isolated; they are often faced with sacrificing some of the listening experience or living with the anxiety that comes from that isolation. Our technology changes that paradigm once and for all, and will allow people to personalize their listening experiences in an endless variety of ways. We hope to make the listening experience better for everyone and this is only the beginning. We have focused our IP and engineering activities around a road map that has the potential to transform the way people interact with the world around them. Our technology has applications across live and recorded music, sports and entertainment, outdoor activities, business and healthcare. We’ve spent the past few years challenging our engineers and technology advisors to reshape what has been and what can be, done. We are tremendously excited where this will lead as we expand our product offerings and pursue opportunities in multiple markets.”
Upon arriving back home in New Jersey after CES last week, the company launched an Indiegogo campaign to get both The Hero and The Sidekick into as many hands as possible.
“We believe the Indiegogo platform allows us to reach the right audio focused audience, giving us the opportunity for meaningful interaction, and allowing our supporters a first-chance opportunity of owning the devices before they are available via any other channel,” said Joel Sackett, Vice President, product, marketing & software for Stages. “Our products solve real-world problems. As an example, our directional ambient sound control coupled with our keyword detection will forever enable someone at work to be aware of their surroundings while listening to music or focusing and avoid being startled when being approached from behind.”
You can find their Indiegogo Campaign here.