When Earbuds Become an Extension of Your Mind

Innovation has been a cornerstone of CES since the show opened its doors in 1967 as a showcase for the latest and greatest in hi-fi audio and color TV. From self-driving cars and robots to holograms and embedded artificial intelligence, much of the innovation on display at 2023 CES, which wrapped up yesterday, would have been unimaginable to attendees of that first show and is, frankly, beyond the purview of Sound & Vision. But there were still plenty of A/V advances, especially in TV/video, to keep us engaged (S&V editor Mark Henninger is putting the finishing touches on his list of Editor’s Picks from the show so keep an eye out for that).

One of the more interesting technology previews to come out of this year’s show was a “neural sensing” set of wireless earbuds from French startup Wisear that give new meaning to “hands-free.” Dubbed Perceive, the prototype earphones incorporate patented artificial intelligence (AI) technology that enables the wearer to play music or answer calls on a connected smartphone by simply clenching facial muscles. No tapping. No speaking.

Tiny electrodes embedded in the earbuds record brain, eye, and facial activity and those signals are decoded and transformed by an AI processor into intuitive controls or “natural extensions of our mind.” Ultimately, the company says the earphones will add eye and brain activity to its arsenal of control modes with eye control targeted for the end of 2023 and brain control in 2024.

“With our next-generation earphones and upcoming devices, we want to become the keyboard and mouse of the digital experiences of the future — empowered by AR/VR and the metaverse,” explained Wisear CEO and co-founder Yacine Achiakh. “This revolution will not happen until we can totally reinvent the way humans interact with their machines, in the most natural way possible — hands-free, high speed, accessible for all and at all times, without the limitations we are already experiencing with text, click and voice.”

The goal is to make the technology available to millions of people by integrating it into everyday devices and the company hopes to bring its first neural interface-equipped device to market in 2024. On its website, the company writes: “Five years from now, we believe most of our everyday devices will be equipped with biosensing solutions, and we plan to become the neural-interface solution that is used in any device to read, process, and interpret your bioelectrical-activity to make your life easier.”

More information is available at wisear.io. For those wondering about the real-world benefits of voice/hands-free wireless earbuds, Wisear created this product explainer:

In this video, Wisear CEO Yacine Achiakh demonstrates a prototype of the Perceive neural sensing earphones.