Bose’s latest true wireless earbuds, Sport Open Earbuds, are designed to keep you aware of your surroundings while you listen. While most other earplugs sit inside the ear canal and block at least some ambient noise, the Sport Open earplugs instead sit outside it. Bose has officially announced the earplugs just over a month after their existence was leaked via an archive from the Federal Communications Commission.
A design that lets in ambient noise may sound unintentional, given how headphone manufacturers (including Bose) spend so much money trying to do the exact opposite with noise reduction technology. But there are many cases where being aware of the surroundings is very good, for example when you cycle through traffic or run after dark.
Different headphone manufacturers have used a number of approaches to achieve a similar effect. Bone cord headphones, such as those manufactured by Aftershokz, vibrate against the sides of the user’s head, for example, so that they can hear music without having earplugs in their ears. It is also becoming common for earbuds such as AirPods Pro to include a kind of “ambient” or “transparency mode”, where they use their microphones to hear ambient noise and mix it with music.
Bose’s approach is a little different. Instead of sitting inside the ear like most earplugs, the Sport Open earplugs gently grip the ear on the outer back and sit over the ear canal. Bose claims that this allows them to work with “no ear tips, virtually no skin contact and without squeezing and vibrations from the bone cord.” It adds that only the user should hear what the earplugs are playing, even in high volumes.
In terms of specifications, Bose promises that the earbuds will provide eight hours of battery life on one charge, have a dust and water resistance class of IPX4 and support Bluetooth 5.1. They can be controlled with a button on each earplug (one to activate a paired phone’s voice assistant and one to control playback), and there are microphones built into them to make calls. They come with a carrying case and charging sock and can be controlled with the Bose Music App.
Bose is only releasing the Sport Open Earbud in the US for now, where they are available in black and retail for $ 199.95. Pre-orders open today, and the earplugs will be available from mid-January.