Let’s talk about Nuheara, a company that has been started by people that have experience in the hearing aid industry. The aim was to develop a technology that would create a new way of hearing.
This led rise to the development of IQBuds.
The development of the IQBuds was funded via Nuheara’s Indegogo campaign in mid April 2016 and was incredibly successful. The initial goal of A$50,000 was reached within two hours of launching the campaign!
Nuheara is a great story being the first ASX listed wearables startup that has won a number of awards for the IQBuds product including CES Tech for a Better World, Best of CES 2017, and the EFTM.com Best Innovation of 2017
These are more than just a pair of bluetooth enabled wireless earbuds. These are noise cancelling earbuds which quite effectively reduce the ambient noise allowing you to really take in the audio from your tablet, phone or other bluetooth enabled device.
But that is not the really impressive part. In a fun twist on noise cancellation technology, IQBuds are able to actually take in the ambient noise and filter out distractions while boosting frequencies used by human speech. These can be crudely described as a half-step towards hearing aids.
The first time I gave these a try it was in a cafe and I had the noise profile set to restaurant. The difference was pretty amazing. The background clatter and music was turned down and the people speaking around me became clearer. When the people at my table were quietly sitting I could hear the conversation clearly in the next booth!
We also often have had the fun of talking to someone wearing ear buds where they shout at you because that internal feedback loop is interrupted. This is another IQBuds party trick as you can wear these ear buds and not embarrass yourself in a social situation with all the tone deaf shouting/singing.
The great thing also is that you can pipe audio through the ear buds in this mode and still get to hear your environment around you. Excellent from a safety aspect where you might want to listen to your favourite music but still be aware of what is going on around you.
The fit is pretty comfortable and secure with a wide range of tips to suit most ears. The buds are light enough to be worn all day and the battery life will keep up thanks to the use of low powered tech like bluetooth LE (low energy). Pairing is simple making use of the touch controls on the ear buds to link to your device allowing greater customisation with the IQBuds companion app (iOS, Android).
Controlling the IQBuds is done mostly from the touch surfaces with the ability to switch between profiles done on the right bud with play/pause and managing phone calls taken care of with the left bud while volume is controlled from your device. Pairing is done by holding a finger to either bud for 5 seconds and then enabling pairing mode on your device. This appeals to the security guy in me as the earbuds are not constantly seeking to pair with anything with a signal.
Charging is done via the carry case that is good for 3 recharges before needing to be connected via miniUSB.
The earbuds boast up to 16 hours of audio streaming or up to 32 hours of audio processing.
As the IQBuds are intelligent, there is also the option to upgrade their software so I am looking forward to improvements in bluetooth range which was one of my very few gripes. Because the buds are using bluetooth LE your device has to have a pretty clear path to the ear buds meaning keeping my phone in my jeans pocket would make for a connection that could drop out now and then. A minor niggle but to be honest one of the few points I would like to see addressed.
Now onto the question of price.
Let’s be honest, these are very good quality earbuds. I like to test quality by watching a movie I have heard on other headsets and in music mode (noise cancelling) and these buds are so good I managed to pick up extra off screen dialogue I have not heard before which is a big tick in the straight up audio quality. The assistive hearing feature is impressive with the ability to further tune to your preferences via your smartphone and switch between profiles at a touch of the right bud.
At the time of posting, the IQBuds are shipped free for US$299 or AUD$399. These are not cheap but still cheaper and less bulky than competing models (Bose Quietcontrol 30 – AUD$449). If you are shopping for a high-end set of Bluetooth earbuds the Aussie designed IQBuds should be at the top of your list.
Good Assistive Hearing tech
Excellent sound quality and noise cancelling
Long battery life
Small and easy to manage
Touch surfaces are very sensitive. I sometimes started and stopped things by inserting/removing the buds.
Bluetooth link is prone to dropouts does not deal well with obstacles.
Best for :
Anyone looking for high end earbuds particularly travellers and others looking for a flexible and compact personal audio solution.
People that could use a little assistive hearing but are not quite ready for hearing aids.
Availability : Now from Nuheara.com
Price : AUD$399, USD$299