Google’s ‘moonshot’ factory known as X is reportedly working on a wearable device that could enable users to isolate specific voices in busy environments.
The project is called Wolverine, according to an Insider report lifting the lid on Google’s efforts, and could augment users’ hearing and assist those dealing with hearing loss.
The report (via 9to5 Google) speaks of an in-ear device that could “focus on one particular speaker in a group setting with overlapping conversations,” or potentially segregate speech in order to hear only that speaker.
Sources quoted in the report say the design has been through multiple iterations and not without technical challenges. The report says that because of the number of microphones and sensors needed, the prototypes have been somewhat large. However, Google has more recent progress on a smaller design, the sources say.
The report reads: “Wolverine has been through many iterations so far — sources described crude early versions of a device that covered the entire side of the ear or protruded out from above the ear.”
Google confirmed to Insider it was “exploring the future of hearing,” which could potentially cover a lot of ground, but seems to confirm the existence of the project in some form.
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According to the report, Google has been working on the tech since 2018 and has multiple plans for the technology. According to the report, the tech could be spun out into a business in its own right.
Google’s X company, previously known as the X Labs and now part of the wider Alphabet family, focusses on what Google refers to as “moonshots”; those unlikely projects with the prospect of epochal results.
Google Glass was one example, as was Project Loon, which was designed to offer balloon powered internet to remote and under-served areas. The latter was recently shuttered, while Google Glass now only exists as an Enterprise Edition.