Noise cancelling technology, which is widely used in headphones, lets users drown out background distractions to hear their music better. But what if you don't want to hear anything at all? Standard earplugs often don't cut it (or bring inconveniences of their own), so the new QuietOn earplugs use active noise cancelling (sans music) to minimize what users can hear.
The QuietOn earplugs aren't the only noise cancelling earplugs available (there's ProSounds X-Pro earplugs, which passively cancel different noise using valves, and Hush earplugs, which combine passive cancellation with white noise or nature scenes). But QuietOn differentiates itself by using active noise cancelling tech similar to what you'd find in some consumer headphones.
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The earplugs each measure just 22 x 19 mm (0.9 x 0.7 in) and weigh in at 3.8 g (0.1 oz), with the goal of being comfortably worn. The company says the earplugs have been ergonomically designed to fit comfortably and tightly in the wearer's ear. That tight fit could help to reduce the amount of noise that the user hears by simply closing off the ear (passive noise reduction). The active noise cancellation (ANC), however, is where things get interesting.
Similar to noise-cancelling headphones, the QuietOn earplugs each have a small microphone that captures ambient sound that the wearer would otherwise be able to hear. Using speakers, they then produce a noise-cancelling wave that's 180-degrees out of phase with the original sound – this is the hallmark of all ANC, a process introduced years ago by Bose.
Although the QuietOn earplugs are pushed with the promise of giving users a good night's sleep, they are also suggested for providing peace and quiet when travelling and to help wearers focus when working. We'll need to get some hands-on time before commenting on the actual experience, though. The quality of active noise cancellation varies greatly in headphones; there's a broad range of noise-cancelling quality these could be sitting in.
Unlike Bose's popular noise cancelling QuietComfort 20 earbuds (which can also cancel background noise without playing any music), the QuietOn earplugs are wireless. They don't have any buttons and are active the moment they are removed from their charging and carry case. Users need only slot them into each ear and rotate them to the correct position to begin using them. The company says they'll provide up to 50 hours of battery life on a single charge.
An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is underway for QuietOn. At the time of writing, individuals who pledge from US$130 can receive a pair of the earplugs, assuming all goes to plan with the roll-out (the estimated retail price is $174). Shipping is expected to begin this April, with remaining pledges having an estimated June ship date.
The video below provides an introduction to the QuietOn earplugs.