There are so many unexplored features attached with this device.
1. This can be designed like as if a spectacles for Ears for wearing as a fashion instrument.
2. Like Glasses a part of ambient sound can be made listen to the person wearing it.
3. Selectable graphical eq for local ear equalization can be done.
4. Noise Canceling Headphone.
5. Proximity Sensor can be the best option for gesture recognition and source changing/selection.
the much more...
The local environmental awareness issue was recognized as a major impediment and was one for which no clear solution was apparent. Since hearing is an individual thing, no "one size fits all" solution to situational awareness is likely to come about. Users of such systems should treat it similar to texting while driving - when out and about, pay attention and keep you eyes as well as ears open and not distracted.
To me this is a dangerous trend. If the person forgets to switch back to the ambient sound say after his phone conversation, he is like a deaf person, totally cut off from the sounds around him and prone to accidents.
Today morning only while doing my morning jog, a guy with his earphones on bumped head on onto me - totally unaware of what was happening around him.
In 2007 I was part of a group called the "Ear Pods" which was really a special study group of the annual Project Bar-B-Q meeting which is The Premier Interactive Audio Think Tank. Project Bar-B-Q brings together people from many facets of the audio business and they brainstorm the future and put out reports, as well as actively work to achieve their visions.
Look at the past reports to get a good idea of the span of topics covered. http://www.projectbarbq.com/bbqtopic.htm
Anyway, the "iHear the Future" report of 2007 ( subtitled - The Binaural Headset as Audio Contact Lenses and Our Inevitable Mixed-In Lifestyle of Personal Audio Networks)
can be found here:
It is worth a good read in light of the information in this story. I would be greatly interested in other comments from the EETime community about this subject, especially on (a) the public safety concerns, (b)intellectual property issues, and (c) physical and mental health concerns of a “perpetually connected” lifestyle and the products themselves.