Innovation That Matters

Playback gadget mutes to let important noises in

Work & Lifestyle

SoundBrake is an audio device that will automatically mute headphones when it detects external noises.

One of the joys of headphones is that they enable the listener to immerse themselves totally in their audio of choice. This is all very well when the listener is trying to indulge in some alone time or filter out the sounds of the their fellow commuters, but it poses a problem when their colleague is reduced to flailing their arms around to try and get their attention. We have already seen earphones that offer users the ability to let in ambient noise, and now SoundBrake is an audio gadget that will automatically mute headphones when it detects external noises.

To begin, users plug their existing headphones into the SoundBrake, then connect it to their device via the headphone jack. Then they turn it on and press the auto-adjust button, which prompts the device to measure the ambient sound level. Next, the user adjusts the sensitivity of the device, using the hi and lo buttons. Then they play music as normal. Anytime an external noise passes the preset threshold, the device automatically mutes the audio, to enable the listener to hear what is going on around them. Once the noise is over, the audio returns.


Though Gizmag reported that SoundBrake is somewhat flawed by its own sensitivity — users are rarely in a quiet enough environment for the device to be effective — founder Shari Eskenas has since updated the prototype to lower its sensitivity. SoundBrake is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter where pledgers can preorder one for USD 29 for estimated delivery in April 2016.

How could this product be adapted to be make it more suitable to louder environments — perhaps including preprogrammed ‘allowed’ sounds?



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