Aside from the Fitbit acquisition, Google’s only internally designed notebooks are second-generation Pixel Buds and Glass Enterprise Edition. A new report today says that Alphabet’s X Moonshot Factory is working on portable earbuds with the code name “Wolverine” which improves your hearing.
According to Insider, the X division began working on a project in 2018 to allow users to “focus on a specific speaker in a group context with overlapping conversations,” or speech segregation. This is done through an in-ear device “full of sensors” and microphones, which has proven a challenge with design and physics:
Wolverine has undergone many iterations so far ̵1; sources described rough early versions of a device that covered the entire side of the ear or protruded beyond the ear.
Overall, the technology can be used on several form factors.
But sources stressed that Wolverine may not be just a device or application if it were to become a successful business. A meeting was recalled in which a Wolverine team member emphasized that the project needed to go beyond speech segregation. Insider could not learn what the other applications can be.
Alphabet confirmed to Insider that it was “exploring the future of hearing”, while those like X CEO Astro Teller and Google co-founder Sergey Brin received early demos in 2019. However, like other early-stage experiments, Wolverine wearable could be killed by the alphabet X if a viable business path does not emerge.
Waymo’s autonomous cars are the most successful project born from X, while Wing drone delivery gets there. Loon internet balloons were just killed, while Alphabet works with agriculture and robots.
More broadly, today’s report reveals that Alphabet X is working on wearables again. Glass started in Moonshot Factory and was a sharp experience for the company, but it later became a success for industrial use and was moved into Google’s AR & VR division two years ago.
The article reveals that “another team is working on a face-worn device with the code name ‘Heimdallr’, named after the all-seeing, all-hearing Norse god.” No other details were given, but it may sound related to augmented reality.
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