While image technology has leaped forward, headphones and hearing aids still resemble 19th-Century tech. A show opening this week in London brings together designers seeking to change that. Ideas on view include glasses with built-in earphones that let you listen directionally to whatever you’re looking at, and “goldfish” earphones that repeat whatever someone said in the last 10 seconds — finally, I’ll be able to remember people’s names! My favorite: earbuds connected to a conductive strip so you can finally hear what your friends are saying at a bar. (Wait, maybe that’s not a good thing.)
Could selective hearing have possibilities for music? Absolutely — just ask my friend Joshua Fried, whose Headphone Sextet prompts vocalists with spoken cues for a variety of ingenious compositional configurations. And that’s just on the performer side; there are limitless possibilities for new listening environments, too.