If you’re not quite at the stage of needing a hearing aid but sometimes find it difficult to follow conversations in noisy environments like bars, Bose seems to be soft-launching an iPhone-controlled device to help.

Hearphones look like a special version of the company’s QC30 wireless earphones equipped with directional microphones that allow you to listen selectively by focusing in on conversations and tuning out background noise …

Directional microphones help you focus on conversations in noisy places. Focus, amplify or reduce real-world sounds to the level you want. Active Noise Reduction improves the listening comfort of conversations and takes the edge off the background noise.

The company’s webpage says that the accompany Bose Hear app – which works only with Hearphones – allows you to customize the sound and create presets for different environments. The directional control claims to be good enough to allow you to choose to listen to a specific person in a group conversation.

Hearphones can also be used as normal noise-cancelling in-ear headphones.

The device is not yet on general sale, and only available to try at a series of ‘exclusive events’ at the company’s HQ at Framingham, to the west of Boston. The microsite appears to have been created to allow the company to send the link to selected people, but you can also enter your email address to learn more.

The companion app was added to iTunes a few days ago. But if you were hoping it might work with your existing QC30s, there is bad news: the app description specifically states that it is ‘not compatible with Bose QC30 Headphones.’

The Verge notes that Bose is not the only company to be playing with directional sound. Perhaps with some gadget lovers reaching a certain age, this is the next big thing …

If you’re looking for wireless audio gifts from Bose and other premium headphone and speaker companies, check out my recent gift guide.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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