A unique part of E3 this year was a low-key showing from Turtle Beach of a new technology they have been developing. At the moment, Hypersound is being initially targeted towards helping the hard of hearing, although the applications extend far beyond that. It’s a new speaker technology that aims sound waves at a specific position, while remaining inaudible to anyone who isn’t in the exact spot where they’re being aimed.
The possibilities are pretty cool. It means you could be sitting at home on the couch listening to your game’s audio at full blast, but nobody around you would be able to hear a thing, providing a headphone experience without the headphones. You could be playing a game at any volume, not affecting anyone around you but still being present and able to talk to others. The tech was demoed for us on the floor, and hearing it first-hand I have to say the difference is pretty extraordinary. It’s literally night and day sitting in the path of the speakers, and sitting outside of them.
Initially, it’s being marketed as a device for the hard of hearing. If a family member needs the television’s audio increased to a high level, but doesn’t want to inconvenience or disturb the rest of the family, these speakers are an ideal alternative. They can beam the high-volume audio directly to the spot where the hard-of-hearing family member is sitting, while everyone else just uses the television’s speakers to listen normally. It’s not being considered as a ‘fix’ such as hearing aids, for people who are hard of hearing, but a device which can assist those who don’t want to or are unable to invest in aids.
At the moment, they will only be available for this purpose, at a retail of around US $1500 or so, through medical care. While expensive at the moment, expect to see the technology becomes more widespread, and more consumer applications down the road. At the booth, a stand for a Call of Duty game was on display, playing the trailer which was only audible if you were standing directly in front of it, and silent to passers-by. It’ll be interesting to see what Turtle Beach can do with these devices and how they evolve in future showcases.