Noveto N1 smart speaker beams focused audio that follows you around
Earlier in the year, Israel's Noveto launched a Kickstarter to fund the production of a smart speaker that promised to beam immersive audio to a listener's ears, without disturbing others nearby. The campaign was successful and the SoundBeamer has now morphed into the N1 ahead of an official launch at CES 2022.
The "pockets of sound" directed to the listener's ears are beamed using ultrasound technology, something we've seen a number of times over the years from the likes of Soundlazer and Akoustic Arts. For the N1, the arrays of tiny transducers used to focus the audio are hidden behind fabric covers and positioned on either side of a glass-fronted control panel.
The smart speaker tracks the listener using a 3D sensing module and camera, and transmits the ultrasound waves to focus calibrated audio just outside the ears at sound pressure levels of up to 85 dB – also employing 3D spatial technology for personal immersive audio potential, though we're unable to comment on perceived stereo sound quality without trying the device ourselves.
Users don't need to remain stationary while listening, as the tracking adjusts for movement in real time (but there's no mention of maximum reach). And Noveto is promising that folks nearby will only be able to hear a fraction of what the listener is treated to, saying "if someone talks to you normally over a video call, someone a meter away will only hear a whisper."
The N1 comes with beamforming microphones for focused audio capture while using comms apps or interacting with a digital voice assistant (Alexa is built in). Connectivity options shape up as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB-C and 3.5-mm jack, over-the-air firmware updates promise to keep things fresh, and a companion mobile app for iOS and Android is being made available too.
The company says that production is due to begin next month, when presumably Kickstarter backers will be first in line to get the "state-of-the-art smart speaker." Retail pricing has not been revealed as yet, but such things will no doubt be confirmed at CES 2022 in January.