Bose Launches Sport Open Earbuds That Leave Room for Outside Noise
Bose has launched a new set of true wireless earbuds that deliberately allow some external sound in by keeping it outside of the ear canal. The new Sport Open Earbuds flip the script on the growing number of earbuds with active noise cancellation in favor of one suited more for sports and outdoor activity while still incorporating Bose’s proficiency with audio technology.
Most new earbuds make a point of highlighting how they can shut out the sound of the world around the wearer. The Apple AirPods Pro Baidu XiaoduPods, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live all boast active noise cancellation, and even those that don’t have that feature brag about how well the hearables passively shut out sounds with flexible tips to insert in your ears and other features. Bose zeroes in on customers who would rather hear some sounds around them, with the Sport Open, skipping any active noise cancellation in favor of letting the wearer hear the noise around them. The earbuds situate a flat speaker right above the ear canal where the bud would normally go, staying in place by holding onto the outer ridge of the ear, with a microphone near the bottom, as seen in the picture to the right.
Other earbuds offer a similar hearing experience. either using headphones resting against the head to play music by bone conduction or, as with the AirPods Pro, allowing the wearer to switch from the active noise cancellation to a transparency mode that allows some ambient sounds to filter through to the ear. Like those hearables, Bose pitches the Sport Open earbuds as a better choice than active noise cancellation when you are exercising outside, allowing you to hear traffic while running or on a bicycle.
“Runners and cyclists have been asking us for headphones that let them stay focused on their performance without wires, neckbands, or having to pop out a bud to hear traffic, a training partner, nature, or anything else they don’t want to miss,” Bose wearable audio category director Mehul Trivedi said in a statement. “Our new Sport Open Earbuds solve all these problems — and they’re the only earbuds that do.”
In most ways, the Sport Open is pretty standard for modern hearables, with Bluetooth for connecting to a smartphone and a button on each bud to handle either audio controls or activate whichever voice assistant is native to the phone. The buds do hold a lengthy eight hours of battery life, with a carrying case and charging base controlled by a mobile app. The $200 price tag is a testament to design and Bose’s known high-quality audio more than any AI features. But, that design and audio tech, along with the cachet of the Bose brand, will be useful for competing with those hearables intimately tied to specific voice assistants like the Amazon Echo Buds with Alexa, AirPods with Siri, Galaxy Buds Live with Bixby or Google Pixel Buds with Google Assistant. Each has its stand-out features, the Echo Buds can even measure athletic activity, but that doesn’t shut out third-party options like Bose.
According to Voicebot’s own data published in October, hearables ownership rose 23% over the last two years among U.S. adults. It’s worth noting that owning hearables and using a voice assistant appears to be complementary trends. Apple’s dominance of the hearables market, with nearly a third of the market, means competitors have to get creative in trying to entice customers. Bose’s growing catalog of specialized devices may be the key to its survival as the market heats up.