Bose is launching a new product that promises to make insomniacs rejoice.
Every Bose product you’ve ever worn in or around your ears was meant to be heard. But the aptly-named new Bose Sleepbuds that go on sale Thursday are instead supposed to help you get a good night’s sleep by quieting distracting external audio.
Indeed, the $249 in-ear Sleepbuds are not designed to have you stream or listen to music. They don’t just pump in white noise.
And Bose explains that they’re not active noise-cancelling headphones either, but rather buds that exploit proprietary “noise-masking” technology. They come with 10 preloaded soothing “sleeptracks” such as rustling leaves or gentle waves that mirror the frequencies of snoring, barking dogs, traffic, noisy neighbors and so on, to silence the noises that might keep you awake.
You’ll have to play one of the sleeptracks to get the proper effect; it is not enough to just put these in your ears to drown out sound.
With a tiny rechargeable silver-zinc battery inside, Bose says Sleepbuds can last 16 hours. Yes, you’re supposed to wear them all night long, and can do so, Bose claims, even if you sleep on your side.
They come in a brushed aluminum charging case and are easy to travel with. But these are not the buds you’d place in your ears to listen to songs or podcasts while commuting, say. What’s more, you can’t just stream your own New Age-style soothing musicat bedtime, either.
According to Bose systems engineer Daniel Lee, even the slightest noise can sound loud when you’re trying to get some sleep. And he says that you can’t block out those sounds by pumping up the volume on just any calming song. “Bedside machines can’t cover it, earplugs can’t block it, and earbuds meant for sitting, standing or moving can’t be worn for hours laying down, especially on your side,” Lee says.
Each soft pliable bud is way smaller than a penny and weighs a mere 0.49 ounces. They take advantage of low-energy Bluetooth and work with a custom iOS and Android Bose sleep app. The laser-etched antenna that helps with the connection to your phone or tablet is on the outside of each bud. Through the app, you can select the sleeptrack and determine the volume at which it will play.
Bose chairman Bob Maresca insists radiation is not a concern. “You can wear it for eight hours and it’s less radiation than one three-minute phone call on your cellphone,” he says.
The Sleepbuds felt comfortable when I got to briefly place them in my own ears to hear how external noises were blocked out. But I want to judge how they feel after I wear them for extended hours, in my own bed when I flip from one side to another. They come with small, medium or large-sized tips to help you find a proper fit and not have them fall out of your ears.
You can set an alarm through the Sleepbuds to wake you and (in theory) not the person you share your bed with come morning, lest you not hear a conventional bedside alarm clock. Keeping that in mind, however, you may want to keep the volume of the sleeptracks at a modest enough level so that you would hear a fire or carbon monoxide alarm in the event that you need to wake up in a true emergency.
Bose actually introduced Sleepbuds prototypes on Indiegogo back in November to solicit feedback because, as Maresca told me, having such a bedroom product, is “such a different paradigm for us.” The prototypes sold out in six days.
Maresca acknowledges that $249 is a pretty high price. “If they’re going to pay $249 (customers) are going to expect this thing to help them. And if it doesn’t we are not going to sell hundreds of thousands.”
Meantime, Maresca adds that, “You can’t imagine how many people have asked me, `I assume you can stream music?’”
But he is quick to remind a listener that “they’re engineered for sleep.”
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