Exploring Social Headphones with Vinci

Are these ridiculous headphones the way forward for music tech?
Image via Vinci

At work, there’s a colleague with large, supra-aural headphones on at all times of the work day. They’re not even plugged half the time, but there they remain. Why is he still wearing them, you might ask?

“People leave me alone when I have them on,” he says.

As anti-social a notion it is, the reality is that headphones have always been the most isolating way to experience music. But for millions of music lovers, they not only enjoy their music, they revel in the sharing of new finds and discussing favorite albums with fellow music lovers.

Enter Vinci, and their smart headphones.

With over $1 million in funds raised at the end of 2016, Vinci’s smart headphones claim intelligent noise cancelling and immersive 3D sound. They also claim personal AI, voice control, and have a screen on the outside of the headphone itself.

Vinci senses and learns from your body vitals, activities, listening habits and preferences to make intelligent, real-time recommendations. You don’t have to choose songs yourself. Vinci learns from your body and activity data to pick songs that match your pace, heart rate, and listening preferences.

Vinci can anticipate what you want — from a song choice to an alternative travel route or commute type — before you even realize you need it.

The headphones are available still on pre-order via Indiegogo.

While the smart features of the headphones certainly have appeal, the real question is: “Is this the beginning of true social headphone listening.”

With a screen baked into the outside of the earphone, people could see what you’re listening to. Passing by someone with these headphones on, it’s possible to be exposed to new music that you would have never heard otherwise, simply because you noticed the listing. You may not have yet heard it, but your curiosity would be piqued.

But that’s not all. What if we take it a step further? There are thousands of interconnected chat groups, webcam services, and music streaming services. By utilizing the AI of the headphones, several people could join together to share music with each other, linked between each other in a form of headphone LAN. Suddenly able to simultaneously listen to new tunes together while in a space where it would otherwise be loud and unseemly.

The ideas are fun to think about, and they’re not that far away.

The question that begs to be asked though is, is this what the public wants from their music experience. Soon we shall see.

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