本文摘要:With Apple’s acquisition of Beats this year, headphones have suddenly become a focal point for the consumer technology industry. If you look closely, though, you’ll realize that they’ve always been there.随着苹果公司(Apple)斥巨资并购Beats公司,耳机一夜之间出了消费电子科技行业的焦点。


With Apple’s acquisition of Beats this year, headphones have suddenly become a focal point for the consumer technology industry. If you look closely, though, you’ll realize that they’ve always been there.随着苹果公司(Apple)斥巨资并购Beats公司,耳机一夜之间出了消费电子科技行业的焦点。只不过如果你理解得更加了解一些,你不会找到耳机根本没走远。We take headphones for granted. We forget they’re jammed in our ears or hanging around our neck. They were “wearable” back when the term meant the shirt at the top of the laundry pile. They have been feeding us data from our smartphones since smartphones existed. Yet they have remained at the margins of the wearable tech rush. Until Apple’s $3 billion buy, that is.我们仍然把耳机的不存在当作天经地义的事情,甚至忘了我们于是以把它里斯在耳朵里或悬挂在脖子上。


Apple AAPL -0.61% , as the company is wont to do, has said little about whether its acquisition was driven by talent (namely co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre), technology, or something else entirely. All CEO Tim Cook seems to talk about is how much he loves music. Yet in interviews with Fortune, leaders in headphone design and biometric research say that headphones have the ability to be much more than mere private audio listening devices.苹果对于这笔交易仍然维持着平日的高调,很少驳回这次次并购到底是看上了Beats的人才(如创始人杰米o艾欧文和Dr. Dre)、技术,还是别的什么东西。苹果CEO蒂姆o库克只是说道他有多么爱人音乐。不过在拒绝接受《财富》(Fortune)专访时,一些耳机设计和生物计量研究领域的顶尖专家回应,耳机的能力相比之下好比是作为听音乐的工具而已。

Technophiles have spent the last couple of years obsessing about wearable technology—things like fitness bands, smart watches, and funny-looking glasses intended to give the wearer easier access to information about themselves and the world around them. For headphones, their pre-existing normality may be smart headphones’ ace in the competitive hole.过去几年来,科技爱好者们莫不对可穿着技术深感着迷,健美腕带、智能手机和模样古里古怪的智能眼镜等可穿着设备也层出不穷,为的都是让用户能更加只能地取得关于人们自身和周边世界的信息。至于耳机,由于消费者本就对它十分倚赖,这也就出了耳机在可穿着市场上竞争的一张王牌。

“Headphones were the first mass-accepted wearables,” says Noel Lee, founder and CEO of headphone maker Monster and the lead sound engineer for the original Beats headphones. Beats took that normality a step further by turning high-end headphones into fashion accessories fit for a rock or rap star.耳机厂商Monster公司创始人兼任CEO、Beats公司首席音响师李美圣称之为:“耳机是第一款大范围被人们拒绝接受的可穿着设备。”Beats公司堪称把高端耳机变为了连饶舌歌手、摇滚巨星也趋之若鹜的时尚服饰。

But ears also happen to be great sources of biometric information. In many ways, headphones are a more logical place for digital health and sports functions than the electronic wristbands currently in vogue. “You can measure a lot more at the ear than at other parts of the body,” says Steven LeBoeuf, a specialist in ear biometrics at the sensor-design firm Valencell. That includes blood pressure, heart rate, ECG, and core body temperature, which is particularly tough to get from a wristband. Headphones may also be better at health monitoring than wristbands because putting them on is already a part of many people’s daily routines.人的耳朵刚好也是提供生物计量信息的好地方。从很多方面来看,要想要测量人体的身体健康信息或是构建可穿着设备的健美功能,从耳机著手应当是比时下风行的智能腕带更加合理的自由选择。


By combining biometric data with other sensors—GPS, an accelerometer, or an advanced sound processing unit—headphones could become a new kind of performance enhancer. “[Your headphones] could figure out if you’re cycling, or hunting, or golfing,” says I.P. Park, CTO of the audio device manufacturer Harman HAR 0.80% . “Based on the situation, maybe there are features and services these headphones could provide you.”通过把人体的生物体征伐数据与其它传感器结合(比如GPS、加快计或者一个先进设备的声音处理单元),耳机还需要获取更好的妙用。比如音响设备制造商哈曼公司(Harman)的技术总监I.P.帕克说道:“大家的耳机能辨别出有我们究竟是在骑自行车、狩猎还是打高尔夫。根据现实情况,耳机也许还能为我们获取一些类似的功能和服务。

”For instance, when you get on your bicycle, your headphones could automatically let you hear the sounds of nearby cars through your electronic dance music, solving one of the major conflicts between safety and enjoyment for cyclists. Hunters could use specialty headphones to separate game noises from environmental sound. A headphone worn by a football or soccer player could filter out crowd noise and amplify teammates’ voices— a serious blow to Seattle’s “12th Man” or any other deafening fan bases, and a potentially thorny issue for sports commissioners.比如当你骑马自行车的时候,你的耳机可以自动让你在听音乐的同时听到周围汽车的声音,这就解决问题了安全性与听音乐之间的一个大对立。猎手可以通过专门的耳机区分猎物的声响与噪声。足球运动员戴着的耳机可以过滤器观众的噪声,缩放队友的声音。



Miniaturization has already nearly made it possible for headphones to pack in all that capability. The recent Kickstarter project for Dash earbuds, a wireless pair of earphones made by a company called Bragi, already cram some biometric sensors, a microphone, Bluetooth, and 4GB of storage into a device meant to fit inside a user’s ear. Park predicts that wireless technology will be typical of future headphones as LTE and Wi-Fi connections spread to smaller electronic devices.微型化技术的发展使得如今的耳机差不多早已可以构建上述所有功能。比如布拉吉公司(Bragi)最近生产的一款Dash无线耳机小到可以塞进耳孔,却同时配备了一些生物测量传感器、一个微型话筒、蓝牙装置和4GB的存储空间,感叹麻雀虽小,五脏俱全。帕克指出,随着LTE和Wi-Fi相连普及到小型电子设备上,无线技术对于未来的耳机来说将沦为司空见惯的事。

Biometrics could also make headphones even more central to the gaming world. There’s what LeBeouf calls “relaxation gaming,” which would use sound feedback to train a user, such as a therapy patient, to enter a relaxed state. LeBoeuf also imagines using headphone biometrics to affect play in more traditional video games. A biofeedback-enabled game might require you to actually get angry to transform from Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk, or a character in a social game could be given a different appearance based on the users’ own fitness.另外,生物计量技术有可能使耳机在游戏界的地位显得更加最重要。比如勒伯夫所说的“放开游戏”可以利用声音的对系统对用户展开训练,比如可以让一个声音患者转入放开状态。


Music and games may be the gateway drugs, but smart headphones could also make sound the basis for information services of a sort we’ve never seen before. Spike Jonze’s 2013 film Her depicted a close relationship between a user and his artificial intelligence-equipped personal assistant, who interacts with him only through an earpiece. Harman’s Park thinks that’s prophetic. “Earphones or headphones are going to become major information hubs, just like smartphones now.”音乐使游戏虽然能让人成瘾,但是智能耳机的功能相比之下好比于此。它能使声音沦为一种信息服务的基础,充分发挥出有我们难以想象的效力。斯派克o琼斯在2013年的电影《她》(Her)中刻画了主角与他的人工智能助手之间的亲密关系,而他们之间的交流就是意味着通过一部耳机。

哈曼公司的帕克指出这一点十分有预见性。“耳机将沦为一个最重要的信息中心,就像今天的智能手机一样。”“But,” he adds, “a lot of things have to be done along the way.” That includes pushing voice recognition and response technologies much further. “How many people use Google Voice as their dominant interface? It has to be 100% accurate.” The same thing goes for Apple’s Siri.不过他补足道:“但是要发展到这一步,还有很多工作要做到。”还包括更进一步推展语音辨识与接收者技术的发展。

“有多少人用谷歌的Google Voice当主要界面?它必需要100%的准确。”同理,对苹果的Siri也是一样。Still, no matter how good natural language processing gets, a full-fledged headphone interface would likely combine voice with gestures through touchpads on the headphones’ surface. Input may also come from head movement, such as nodding your head to one side to skip to the next song.不过,不管自然语言处置技术发展得多好,一套成熟期的智能耳机界面难道还是必不可少语音掌控与手势掌控(手势操作者可在耳机外壳的触摸板上展开)。

另外,大家也可以通过头部运动展开输出,比如将头摆向一旁就可以转换到下一首歌。Smart headphones would be most useful when driven by context rather than command, Park said. He envisions headphones able to anticipate and provide for a user’s needs “based on where you are, based on the current context of your situation. We call it augmented hearing.” That could include things like providing a tour of a museum or describing landmarks in a new city.帕克指出,智能耳机最能大显身手的时候,是不受环境驱动、而非不受指令驱动的时候。他飨宴道:“根据你所在的地方,所处的环境,”未来的耳就机需要预估用户的市场需求,获取适当的服务。

比如在博物馆里获取导游服务,或是在一座新的城市里标示地标建筑等。And let’s not forget what headphones were originally designed for. With greater context awareness, connectedness, and processing power, “smart” headphones could enhance the audio listening experience. With biometric and location data, smart headphones could tailor music to moods and moments: heavy metal or dance music for the gym, ambient or modal jazz for the wee hours of the morning.最后我们不要忘了耳机被设计出来的想法。有了更加强劲的环境感官能力、连接性和处置能力后,“智能”耳机也不会提高人们听音乐的体验。比如有了生物体征伐数据和地理位置数据后,智能耳机就可以根据用户的心情和场合调整音乐——在健身房里播出重金属或舞曲,在子夜时分播出氛围音乐或调式爵士乐。

“The way music gets consumed, we’re slaves to convenience. It’s always on the go, really low fidelity, high noise,” says Marko Plevnik of U.K. consumer research and technology design firm PDD. “It’s almost an add-on to another experience. If headphones can add extra poignancy or meaning to music. That’s a good thing.”英国消费者研究与科技设计公司PDD的马尔科o普来夫尼克说道:“从音乐消费的方式来看,我们都沦落了便利性的奴隶。音乐总是在敲,但是保真度很低,噪音很高。听音乐完全出了其他体验的添头。